Last updated: 25 March 2003
Mike here: Just a heads up for anyone in the Los Angeles area. I will be giving a talk at the 4 April combined meeting of the South Bay Astronomical Society and OASIS. I plan on taking my LXD55 8"SC for the talk. For more info (time, location) see the SBAS web site (http://www.geocities.com/sbas_elcamino) and click on the "First Light" newsletter.
Subject: More aperture Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2003 23:00:55 From: "Shane Allen" (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have a 6" SN but would like to investigate possibility of putting a larger aperture OTA on the LXD 55 mount. Is this possible? I would like to keep the 6 inch OTA as a traveller and be able to switch between the two. Do you think this is something that is feasible? Thanks. Shane Allen Colour Specialist Danka Australia Pty LtdMike here: Yes, it is possible as Meade includes a 10" SN in the LXD55 line up. But the larger the aperture the more weight and balance problems that can occur. I have the 8"SC and I've read that a 8" is really the largest that works really well with the LXD55 mount.
Is it possible to buy the 8 inch SC independently of the mount? Do you deal directly with Meade, or can you organise it through a dealer? What sort of difference would you see, say viewing Saturn throught the 8" SC as oppossed to the 6 inch SN? Would there be a world of difference, or a moderate improvement?Mike here: Meade doesn't sell their 8"SC separately. I can't speak for OPT but some dealers may be able to do this. As to a visual difference, yep, you'll see a difference, both in the maximum magnification and in brightness of images.
Subject: Re: FYI SN-6 go to problems Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2003 12:53:46 From: John Gilkison (email@example.com) I really do want to thank you for all your help with my SN-6 go/to problems. We shipped just the mount back to Meade on the 14th of March and I had OPT fax a copy of my invoice to Meade on the 17th. It only cost me $16 to ship and insure, which I consider to be reasonable. A recent purchase for me is a ETX-105EC which I like very much. I got the tripod and 497 hand controller deal and paid for UHTC. First night out of the box after programing it, training the motors, and doing a 2 star alignment, it went to two objects dead center. I got it for a travel scope. I want to get a hard case for it, and a solar filter. Also of interest, is some kind of after market attachment for piggy backing a camera and counterbalancing the scope. I haven't seen anything in the literature specific to the 105's. Is there anything on the market specifically for the 105's to piggy back? I see it for the 90's, or is it generic? * John Gilkison President, National Public Observatory firstname.lastname@example.org www.astronomy-national- public-observatory.orgMike here: Thanks for the update. Sorry about the hassles you had to go through but nice to hear that the ETX-105EC is performing well for you. Check my ETX Site for lots of ETX info: cases, astrophotography, and more. Check Scopetronix: they may have a piggyback adapter for the 105. Or you could make your own using info on the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page.
Subject: Saturn and Jupiter Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2003 15:28:28 From: "Deanna Robertson" (email@example.com) First I want to thank you for sharing your pictures with so many of us amateur astronomers. In my case, I can hardly be called an amateur astronomer, but rather an astronomy curios gal. I am currently taking my first astronomy course and am discovering a passion for it. I am in the process of writing a report and was wondering if you had any pictures of Jupiter and Saturn taken over the past few nights that you would allow me to include with my report. Thanks in advance for your consideration. Take care, Dee Robertson Holly's Place inLake TahoeMike here: Nothing over the last few nights although if you search the web you will likely find MANY sites with photos.
Subject: question about the shipping and packaging of the lxd55 Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2003 12:31:01 From: firstname.lastname@example.org i found your lxd55-page via google and found a very interesting content created by a competently person. i'm planning to buy a telescope as well. here in switzerland, meade telescopes cost nearly twice the u.s.-price! so i wanted to order one from the u.s.a. due to sales restricitions, that's not possible with meade telescopes. well, not directly. a friend of mine could order one to his place (chicago) and send it to me via fedex or ups. if you don't mind, i want to know your opinion about the overseas shipping of the telescope. i saw your pictures of the packaging of the lxd55 and i don't know whether it's made for overseas transportation or not. is the optical system specially protected for transportation? it should be no problem for the large box wich contains the tripod and other stuff!? what do you think about my plan? if you have time, please let me know your opinion. thank you very much in advance for your effort. have a nice weekend! greets from switzerland paulMike here: The tripod box will likely be no problem. I would suggest the telescope box (the whole box) be packed inside a larger box with lots of bubble or "popcorn" surrounding it to protect against impacts. And INSURE it for the full amount. However, depending upon the shipment method, you could still suffer some damage; but that's true even when shipped inside the United States.
Subject: re: Meade SC-8 with LXD500 mount Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 06:55:13 From: email@example.com (Richard Seymour) To: firstname.lastname@example.org I don't have one, but MANY people have shuffled OTAs and the LXD55 mounts.. some have kept the scope and sold the mounts, others have kept the mounts and sold the scopes. Poke through the archives (use the Search window) of the LXD55 yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/messages/ for older postings and suggestions. People have also adapted the LXD55 motor units to other mounts. have fun --dickAnd:
Eugene, This is easy. I did this conversion 4 months ago. I bought a spare CG-5/Vixen mounting plate, but you can use the AR-5 one if need be. The Meade SC-8 OTA assembly has a locking mechanism "head" with the side locking screws to allow the SC-8 OTA to slide out for balancing and removal. This locking plate just has to be attached to the standard (6" long) mounting bracket that came with the 5" OTA. Simply drill two holes in the SC-8 "head" base and bolt it to the LXD mounting bracket. Then attach this unit to the mount. The benefit of this is that the marginal LDX-55 mounting bracket locking "screw" is always tight. The SC-8 locking plate is made to allow you to slide the OTA back and forth to balance the OTA, and it is a more secure mechanism for attaching and removing the OTA. Tom Gideon
Subject: A Quality Primer on the Basics Sent: Monday, March 17, 2003 01:11:41 From: "Richard Platek" (email@example.com) I found a wonderful primer on telescope basics that has worked better for me than any other. And I don't the simple basics, but the "need-to-know" basics that everyone needs to "get". homepage.interaccess.com/~purcellm/lcas/Articles/scope1.htm All of the areas that newbies like me, can't exactly fully grasp, are explained here, very well. You might already be aware of it. It appears it was written at least a decade ago, and I highly recommend it. And, I recommend it not only to people considering buying a new scope, but for those who have already bought a nice scope and have realized that a scope in this class requires you do your homework for a passing grade. As an aside, After 2 weeks with my LXD55 10SN, we are becoming more intimate, I know how to hold it, position it correctly, and other hot. steamy, intimate details. I have made a couple of the most obvious mount-stability fixes, and I will make others. I have several nights of Moon images and they are acceptable, obviously a work in progress :), taken with my Nikon 990 Digital. I can say, that the mastery of Photoshop, or your favorite digital darkroom tool, is essential for quality digital astrophotography. Richard D. Platek Vallejo, CA
Subject: LXD55 rebuild.... Sent: Friday, March 14, 2003 13:18:48 From: "Jean Dorais" (Jean.Dorais@pwgsc.gc.ca) After my rant of the other day, I wanted to post a follow-up. One night this week, a fellow LD55 owner and I took my mount to another friend's place and took the mount apart, removed all the gunky, sticky cheap grease/glue that Meade uses ( you have to love Varsol!!) and replaced it with quality White Lithium Grease. Another friend made me some hard metal schnibs ( his catch-all word for little parts) that slide inside the aluminum cog so that the set screws have something hard to push against ( the shafts of the worm gears are all soft brass...and become loose, letting the cogs slide out of alignment). After re-assembly, and a little tweaking, I now have a mount that runs better than new, and won't freeze up on me in this northern clime! Too bad Meade couldn't spend an extra .05$ on this quick fix...good products, but in desperate need of qualified support staff. I tested the mount out last night at a public sidewalk session, and it worked flawlessly, even in -20C weather. Jean Dorais Ottawa, ON Canada P.S. Following up on the earlier customer service report [further down the page]: A fellow named 'Joe' is the bright eyed who told me the scopes were cheap blah,blah,blah....
Subject: Re: Meade Autostar Sent: Friday, March 14, 2003 04:52:38 From: "Mr. I. M. Williams" (IMW@imwilliams.plus.com) Dear Mike Weasner, Please accept my sincere appologies. I have just realised that I have neglected to send you my thanks for the information you kindly provided (at the begining of February) to help me get to grips with my new LXD55. Thank-you very much for your help and for directions to your web-site. -- Mr. I. M. Williams - (e-mail) - mailto:IMW@imwilliams.plus.com West Midlands, United Kingdom
Subject: Meade SC-8 with LXD500 mount Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2003 09:55:09 From: "Eugene Black" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Apologies for sending this e-mail but I am unable to find the answer from your site or related sites. I am looking at the possibility of upgrading my Meade SC-8 with LXD500 mount to LXD55 variant with autostar via purchase of 5-inch Meade AR-5 refractor model. You may think of this as a round about method but a friend my requires a 5 inch refractor with his existing mount, so all is not lost. However, my main concern is that the cradle attachment that comes with LXD55 mount may not fit my existing SC-8, in which case a purchase may not be sensible. Can you possible advise? Many thanks Regards, Eugene BlackMike here: Take a look at the photos on my experiences page, both initial and later ones. You can see the mounting bracket support that runs the length of the OTA. You'd have to match that somehow.
Thanks for information. It looks like the mounting bracket wedge underneath i.e. metal piece that attaches to mount for LXD55 is less wide than that for LXD500. Appreciate help and response. Regards, Eugene Black
Subject: LXD55 Motor drive failures... Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 10:03:17 From: "Jean Dorais" (Jean.Dorais@pwgsc.gc.ca) I've had my LXD55 SN10 for a little over 2 months now. The Autostar died after 2 weeks. Meade sent me another one at no charge ( good thing, as it took a little over a month for them to send it). I get the new Autostar and now I keep getting Motor Drive Failures...only one of the motor drives actually working. I've done a RESET, tried to retrain the drives, re-calibrate the drives, done a hardware reset on the Autostar, re-loaded it with the latest (26E) version and same thing. When I called Meade to explain the problem, the useless twit on the other end said, and I quote " It's a cheap piece of hardware, what do you want for the price?" and then hung up. GRRRRRRRRR! I called Meade again, spoke to another agent who wasn't the brightest either, and he explained that Meade would take back my existing motor drives, but it would take up to 5 months to ship me a new one, as they are completely out of stock. Double GRRRRRRRRRRRR. I waited 4 months for the original scope, used it 4 times and now it's shot, and now I have to wait up to 5 months for a replacement...To me, that is unacceptable customer support. Dealers should be sent spare LXD55 parts and have them deal with a 5 month wait...I've already told my dealer that I was thinking of returning the scope to him as a piece of garbage. Any other complaints about similar problems and useless support? Thanks, Jean Dorais Ottawa, ON CanadaMike here: Sorry you've had problems. Did you happen to get the names of who you talked to at Meade?
Subject: Tips Thanks Sent: Monday, March 10, 2003 08:29:25 From: "Roger D. Sheppard" (email@example.com) I want to thank you for your Tips and Tricks package on your web site. I spent a lot of the weekend tuning up my LXD55 8"SC according to the suggestions there. More than anything, the leveling and the twisting and turning gives me a much more intuitive feel for the mount and how a GEM works. I feel much more comfortable with it now. The GOTOs are about the same but the polar scope in the mount is right on now. Leveling is much easier with the bubble levels installed. It was too cloudy last night to go out and the moon is beginning to get in the way but I'll be out again soon. Keep up the good work. There is some great stuff on your web site. Thanks, Roger.. Make sure that the thing you are living for is worth dying for.
Subject: Re: LXD55 SC-8 Sent: Saturday, March 8, 2003 19:07:35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Seymour) To: John.Iannelli@aheadcomusa.com I saw your note on Mike's site, and i also like to poke at Autostar problems... which version of firmware are you running? (the FULL version identifier is under Setup > Statistics [enter][scroll up]) And what is your site (the City the Autostar is using, or your Lat/Long and TimeZone), and the approximate date/time of your experiences? thanks --dick (it's more fun than crossword puzzles)
Subject: Concerning Joe Hopper . . . Sent: Saturday, March 8, 2003 18:30:29 From: "Jeff Huff" (email@example.com) I have an AR-6 too. The same "strange move" happened to me. One thing that I should have noted was that I couldn't program it for the LXD-55 - the autostar had no option for it. I chose one of the others (I don't remember which) and the next thing I know I hear CRUNCH! Meade had sent it with the wrong autostar controller. My damage was less than Joe's. I caught it before there was any damage beyond the plastic housing. When I called Meade, the techie identified the problem immediately and said it was a common problem they had. They switched out the Autostar. I had to give them my credit card number during the swap and if I didn't keep my part they would have charged me for the new one. One note though, I wanted to have them replace the plastic housing because I thought it was their fault. I just wanted to have a new telescope without any glue fixes. The techie told me that they wouldn't replace it without replacing the entire mount. If I wanted the mount replaced it would take months. He couldn't even tell me how many months. I super glued the darn thing, but I keep that experience in the back of my mind for future purchases. This is my third scope. I started with a Celestron Nexstar 5 that was out of the box perfect, the Meade LX-10 with no problems, then the LXD-55 - AR-6. Somehow I just don't feel the same care in manufacturing as I did with the other two. Just my opinion. Jeff HuffMike here: Older Autostar ROM versions might not have the LXD55 model but more recent versions should have. I guess the right advice is to check the version if the LXD55 is not listed. Then upgrade it to the current version before proceeding to use the LXD55.
Subject: Re: SN-6 go to problems continued Sent: Friday, March 7, 2003 23:40:37 From: John Gilkison (firstname.lastname@example.org) We did as you suggested below. After retraining the drives I took the telescope out tonight. I have a 80mm F/5 piggy backed on it with a small finder of its own (both image correct) so I can find things when the go/to isn't. After set up I confirmed that the Lat/Long were correct, inputed the date and time and tried a easy align. The first align star was 20 or so degrees off, so I centered it and pressed enter again. The second align star was Capella which was obstructed by my house so I just hit enter when it beeped. I tried Jupiter first, again it was 20 or so degrees off. I centered it and did a coordinates confirmed and then went to M-44. That it didn't miss. I tried M-3 and it missed it by 20 or so degrees. I centered it, did a confirm, and tried M-51. It missed it. I am satisfied this scope is moving, but it sure ain't grooving, as they say. I bought this scope last May (2002) and I need to get something done about this drive before then. I bought a scope which is more trouble to use then if it was just a mechanical GEM. I can find things without the go/to and with this scope the electronics are just in my way right now. Meade needs to make this right. Where do we go from here.Mike here: First suggestion: remove the 80mm telescope. Then recalibrate the drives and reTRAIN. If the counterbalancing for the extra weight was off, you could have some slewing irregularities. On the other hand, 20-30 degrees consistently sounds like a possible time error (if it was 30 degrees or two hours) or a combination of factors, such as magnetic north vs true north if there is a difference at your location, Daylight Savings, etc. Since you have an early model, have you upgraded the Autostar to the current version (2.6Ed)?
Mike, how long is this going to go on? I have had this telescope since May of last year and I have not been able to get it go/to since I got it. I know where the the pole star is! I know my geographical location! I know how the time system works. I have trained the dam motors until I am blue in the face. I own a 12 inch LX-200 and have been hitting objects with the go/to with 98% regularity for five years with it. Enough is enough. I want something done about this mount. It can't be that much of a problem to return just the mount itself. I had a motor drop out problem on my 12 inch LX-200 that developed after I got it, and we returned it to Meade to fix, and got it done. This little GEM is nothing to ship next to that. Unless you have something concrete to propose I will call Meade myself on Monday. I would appreciate a little assistance from the dealer that sold me the scope in the first place! I know you have been trying to help, but it is not solving the problem. This means the problem is somewhere else. Please Advise!Mike here: My apologies for the confusion. I didn't associate your problems with a purchase from OPT. I'm only indirectly associated with OPT and don't work there. I'll forward your message to them.
Subject: Re: LXD55 SC-8 Sent: Wednesday, March 5, 2003 05:51:06 From: "John Iannelli" (John.Iannelli@aheadcomusa.com) How are you? Well I did get my cord from Meade but the filter was missing. I called them up and they are sending me the filter. The problem I am noticing now is that when I use the manual 2 star alignment. Here is the scenario: The scope is in the polar home position with Polaris centered. I select my first alignment star and the scope slews to it and is in the eyepiece. I center it and enter it and proceed to the next alignment star and do the same thing. Three out of four times I get an alignment failed message. If I use the auto align (easy) the scope picks the first star and it slews to that star and after the beep I do not use that star but select the 2 stars that I used in the manual 2 star alignment and I get a successful alignment every time. What do you think the problem is? It has me baffled because other than choosing that initial star autostar is working in the same manner as the manual 2 star alignment. I hope this makes sense to you. Any help would be appreciated. ThanksMike here: That is an odd occurrence. I would suspect a possible bug in the Autostar cord. Two suggestions: 1. report it to Meade at email@example.com. Don't expect any reply but they do read the bug reports. 2. "if it hurts, don't do that." I always use the Easy 2 star alignment, even when just doing a quick alignment and accepting the stars as centered even if they are behind the house.
I actually received a response from engineering at Meade. They informed customer service and they wanted to know what the names of the 2 stars i was using for the manual alignment. The 2 stars were Cappella and Betlegeuse. We'll see if they look into it. Thanks John Iannelli
Subject: ETX 125 or LXD55 SC-8 Sent: Tuesday, March 4, 2003 06:59:33 From: "Matteo SEMINATI" (firstname.lastname@example.org) First of all congratulations for your site, it is very useful, frequently updated, well done and made on Mac Platform (I'm a mac fan and user too) ! I live in north of Italy and I own a self made Dobsonian 12". Even if I own it since 1995 I'am still a novice in astro-observation. I read about Meade Anniversary and I'd like to buy a new instrument for observation and some practice in Astrophotography (with my Nikon 885) and because my 12" Dobson is too difficult to move when I go on holiday or to dark sites near here. I bore you looking for your opinion on which one will be OK for me. Pricing in Italy is now 1600 Euros for ETX 125 (with free tripod, UHTC and Autostar) and 2200 Euros for LXD55 SC-8 UHTC. (it's incredible how are expensive here than in USA - what do you think ?!). My thinking at the moment: ETX will be OK even for portability, but I'm in trouble about the small size because I own a 12", so 8" LXD could be in the middle ..... Thank in advance for any comment. Matteo SEMINATI - Project ManagerMike here: Be certain to look at the ETX Site as well. I have the ETX-70AT, ETX-90RA, ETX-125EC, and the LXD55 8"SC. Even though the -125 and 8"SC have almost the same focal length (1950mm vs 2000mm) the difference in aperture really makes a difference. But yes, the LXD55 is certainly portable than the ETX models. So it will really come down to portability vs aperture. You'll have to decide which is more important for your purposes. Since you have a large telescope already, portability be may be more useful for those trips.
Subject: LXD55 Powered Mount Sent: Monday, March 3, 2003 21:01:56 From: email@example.com (Steve & Cathy Bedair) Here's a new mount I just finished for my Celestron C-11. It uses a set of the new Meade LXD55 motors and the 497 Autostar controller. Works great !! Here's a link: "http://bedair.org/LXD/C11LXD.html" As always thanks Mike for the best ETX / LXD sites on the web, Steve Bedair
Subject: Brand new owner of an Lxd55 10" Sent: Monday, March 3, 2003 5:03:04 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Platek) I agree with everyone that this is a magnificent resource. I really appreciate your service to it. After about 3 months of research, I decided a Meade LXD55 10" was pretty much right for me. I really couldn't afford to spend more, and we have some spectacular viewing opportunities coming up. I want to share some initial thoughts and experiences that I thought might be useful to relative beginners who purchase a scope like this. I have been looking at the stars my entire life, but these go-to scopes are something else. You really have to get a grasp on the nomenclature and science of astronomy. IT IS a Science, and if you buy a scope like this, you really have to start doing some homework. My scope arrived intact, earlier that promised, and I managed to fit both boxes into a 4 Dr Honda Civic my housemate lent me. I went to pick it up on Friday night, but due to my own confusion, with respect to their hours, I wasted three hours. But then again, I was told I would have to wait 60-90 days, for my new toy, two weeks ago. I bought my scope at scope-city in SF. When I originally called the number, to discuss my purchase questions and decision, I was met with actual and honest customer service. I really wanted advice the would dovetail with my research. I drove to SF, again, late Saturday, enjoyed validated free parking, and .. Sam asked me if I wanted or needed anything else ... Well I have a nice Sony Digital CP 990 and I did want attach it. We got out the stuff that would let me do it, Sam spent time explaining it. It was only sixty bucks, but when I looked at what I just spent, and seeing a paycheck 14 days away, I decided I would wait. Sam tossed them in a bag, handed them to me and said, "you owe my sixty bucks" I started to write an IOU, and he tore it up .... I am going to leave this for now tonight ... I realize that my experience of this new purchase is really useful. And I am tired .... I stayed up kinda late last might :) My name is Richard D. Platek ... I have posted to the INET for about 20 years as Lion. I would you like to think of me as, and refer to me as Lion my email is email@example.com I hope to both serve and learn from the forum Mike has magnificently created Love, Lion
Subject: Power Jack Polarity Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2003 18:15:47 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Osvaldo Santiago) I purchased a RadioShack Universal Adaptaplug DC Power Cord (270-1994) and a Adaptaplug "N" (273-1717). I need to know the polarity of the power jack of the lxd55 to match it correctly. Can you help me. Thank youMike here: Haven't checked mine but it is probably the same as the ETX line: center pin is positive.
Thank you for responding to me so quickly. You are right. I talked to Meade Tech Services and they confirmed the center pin is positive.
Subject: softwareProg Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 14:42:45 From: "PRG" (email@example.com) I have been looking for a Star finder computer program that can be used in conjunction with the Meade LXD55....does anyone know of one? many thanks Paul Garwood UKMike here: See the Astronomy Links page on my ETX Site; in the Software section there are several programs (shareware, commercial, Mac, PC, Unix) that work with the Autostar.
Subject: LXD55-8''SC Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 14:00:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I am still in the thinking stage of purchasing a LXD55-8''SC telescope and wanted to know if you tested the collimation on yours and if it was good. And i also wanted to know if you knew where i could find information on collimating a Schmidt-Cassegrain. thanksMike here: When I first got mine I did a star test and found it exhibited nice Airy disks. So, no collimation was necessary. The steps are explained in the manual.
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