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My Meade LX80 journey of discovery ;)

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#1 dr.who

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 05:19 PM

Took 2 hours off work today to drive out to Woodland Hills Telescope and Camera to pick up my LX80. Jon is the man to speak to there by the way. Great customer service.

Anyway... This post will be my initial impressions on the mount as well as the initial test we ran. I will follow up with photos (and if possible a movie of it in action as well as it and my CGEM for reference) as soon as I have a chance. I doubt I will be able to get too many for the next two days thanks to work getting in the way (I *HATE* it when that happens!) but plan to put it through it's paces this weekend.

Speaking of which if anyone is in the Los Angeles or surrounding area's, is good or at least proficient at AP under light polluted skies and would be willing to meet me and use their AP Fu on my mount I would like to put it through it's EQ/AP chops but don't think I have the skill yet to do so. So... Please PM me if you are interested.

He and I were both interested to see the bloody thing so he cracked it open for me. Sorry no photos. It's been done though so I will spare you the standard opening the box sequence. My first thoughts... Good Engineering. And for the record for me that is high praise where as Bad Engineering is one of the most insulting things I can say.

The mount is very ergonomic and compact with far less moving and movable parts when compared to the CGEM. With the handles it actually felt lighter than the CGEM (It is 5 lbs lighter per published specs) and much easier to move around. From the tripod on up the unit is very solidly built with an eye to ergonomics and good engineering practices. I say an eye to because there are some things that are needlessly complex and typical (myself included) of an Engineer going "Hey! Wouldn't it be really cool if we...!" Instead of saying "Hey! Wouldn't it be best if we made this a simple as possible!?!" Specifically moving it from Alt/Az to Eq and back. You must use a hex tool, either the one included or a substitute, to do this. The tool fits nicely in its own spot on the mount (but should have been attached by some means to the mount instead of screwing in and out where it can get lost) and all but this function could have been accomplished in a much simpler fashion with a knob like on the CGEM. Making the weight bar not standard size was also a no no in my book. You are going to need 1" plus sized weight holes for this. The other that stands out the declination clutch serves a dual purpose of being where you screw in the counter weight bar so you are screwing in the weight bar forever and at first I thought there was a problem because I kept turning and turning without it stopping plus the place it screwed into also tightened and loosened further confusing the issue.

The tripod is built like a tank compared to the CGEM and almost twice as heavy but I am hoping that means better stability. The weight bar coming apart is nice and the ability to mount dual OTA's but said mounting has me worried. Specifically if I need to mount weight on it plus the other OTA. Not sure of this yet because I haven't RTFM. I know I know shame on me. But hey I am a guy... its what we do. What worries me is the weight will have to be higher up on the bar then the OTA and if that weight goes sliding down then its going to hit the additional OTA mount plate which may end up with the additional OTA getting the bad end of that deal. Not sure yet and hope they didn't do that. If they did then it would be a case of Bad Engineering for sure.

Also in it's favor are that it very clearly marks what needs to point where for what function and three attachment knobs to mount the mount to the tripod for a bit higher level of stability instead of the central pole like on the CGEM. One of my pet peeves on the CGEM is that the EP holder and tripod stabilizer are on the same bolt. Why? Not simple and turning it the wrong way can mean you are loosening the mount from the tripod instead of the EP holder.

I did an initial setup with the mount in EQ position and the hand controller set for Alt/Az which put the theoretical OTA upside down and pointing the wrong way for the star it was syncing to which was a moment of concern but a factory reset and restore to Alt/Az as well as putting the mount in the right direction for North, setting it for Alt/Az and changing the location from Alameda to my local zip had it close to pointing the right way. On reflection my location was over one degree (47 miles) of Lat/Lon to the North and West of where I had the mount set for which would probably account for why it wasn't closer to where it was supposed to be.

Last observation for now is that it is quieter and smoother in terms of motor movement/noise than the CGEM but that was unloaded. Loaded up may be a different animal.

#2 Stew57

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 05:54 PM

I sure would like a peak at PE data.

#3 Patrick

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 09:19 PM

Pictures, pleassseee! :flower: :flower:

Patrick

#4 dvb

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 10:11 PM

So, not perfect, but sounds generally positive!

#5 John Miele

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 10:52 AM

I asked this in another thread but don't think it hurts to ask again here...

Have you tried to lift up and move the assembled mount and tripod (less CW)? I'm wondering how hard it will be to hand carry the mount from a garage into a backyard. It seems like it might be a pretty hefty load. Any comments on that?

Thanks...John

#6 dr.who

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:03 AM

John- I have. It is actually easier than the CGEM by a moderate margin. The reason being the handles. As I said its more ergonomic in its design as well as more compact so the weight distribution is different then the CGEM.

dvb- For sure not perfect but overall well engineered with only a few spots where the Meade Engineer's got a "case of the clever's" and chose the "clever" solution over the (more appropriate) "simple" one. This is balanced out by the spots in other places (like the handles and the compactness) where they had ease of use in mind.

Patrick- I will take them tonight or tomorrow night and post them for sure.

Mark- How would I record that information?

All- If there is a specific test you would like me to run, you explain it in a way that someone who's shirt sleeves are longer then their inseam (I am the first in my family to walk on my hind legs and not on my knuckles most of the time), and I can do it I will run the test and report back.

#7 Stew57

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:52 AM

You would need some type camera or webcam and a cable to hook your mount to a pc. You could run phd with the corrections turned off, through your ota. It will record the PE data.

for visual you can forget about PE. It would only make a difference if it was gigantic, and even then only at really high powers. AP is a different story as the lower the better and it needs to be smooth for guiding to be able to keep up. At the new price point it is going to have some real compitition.

#8 jonbosley

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 12:08 PM

Does it have a gps built in?

#9 dr.who

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 06:46 PM

Mark- Understood. While I am not ready for AP on this mount yet I am more than willing to donate my time and the mount if someone who has experience is willing to meet me and donate their time and their equipment...

Jon- No GPS. It will take City, Zip Code, or Lat/Lon

#10 Tmohr36

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 08:32 PM

Excellent dr. who! I'll ditto your carry explanation above, much easier than the CGEM despite the increased weight of the LX80. Those handles are in a perfect spot. Glad you're up'n runnin'!

Tom Mohr

#11 brokenwave

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 08:52 PM

Finally another LX80 owner, You should enjoy using it. The handles are a plus but it is still a beast. Even after taking my OTA and counterweight off it is like doing a few minutes on the eliptical. Just kidding. I am still very impressed with the stability of it. I am using a LXD75 in Mexico right now and wish I brought the LX80 with me. I will do it during the winter months and hopefully after I buy a 9.25" SCT.
Enjoy it.

#12 MeadeSquared

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:10 AM

The only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger (again) is the missing auto guider port. I really hope they release some details on that accessory soon.

#13 dr.who

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:24 AM

Tonight was first light with the LX80...

Impressions & thoughts starting with the bad...

It's a overly complicated $800 Alt/Az mount.

Overly complicated because in Alt/Az mode balancing the bloody thing is actually more difficult than on the CGEM. In Alt/Az the rail saddle is facing sideways which means for any OTA you are going to be supporting it all by yourself with no help from gravity. It uses a narrow and short Vixen saddle which again means you are going to be using your upper body to make sure its firmly in the saddle with no help. For those of you like me with a big OTA you better make sure you get it pressed correctly into that saddle or else you are going to have slippage because its not in right! Ok, it just occurred to me that it's about the same level of PITA as the Celestron 8SE in terms of getting it into the saddle and getting it balanced in declination.

Now add to that the fact that once you get it into the saddle and balanced in Dec you have to loosen both sets of RA knobs, pull out the hex key, release the RA clutch, dial the mount head up to 45*, and balance the ota in RA. After you have done that you have to return the head to the 0* position using the hex key, lock the RA clutch, lock the Dec clutch, tighten the RA knobs, while making sure that the Alt/Az arrow lines up with the corresponding arrow on the base of the mount and that the Dec circle is set to zero.

But wait! There's mooooree! Now you have to drop the bubble compass like you get with the LX90 into the OTA diagonal, release the Dec clutch and point the OTA to magnetic North, now relock the clutch and release the RA clutch (conveniently located on the weight bar) and rotate the OTA up and down until the bubble level says you are level, then relock the RA clutch.

And now you are ready to begin alignment.

Alignment was EXACTLY like on the LX90. Same star's same method, same degrees off, same same. So at least it's consistent. First goto alignment star was off, most likely something I did wrong, by a lot. Second one was off by a bit less but still off again most likely me not moving the entire assembly all 100 +/- lbs of it so that the arrows lined up where it was supposed to and instead just releasing the clutches and moving the OTA till it was set.

I am going to repeat that first part because it, in my mind, is important... It is EXACTLY like the LX90 in alt/az mode for alignment.

And the whole idea of it supporting a 40 lbs+ pound OTA... It supported the Celestron C11 with Vixen rail and Orion finderscope fine. The motors were not straining and they were about as loud as the LX90 and less loud than the CGEM. However... The thing would shake and vibrate like it was having a seizure! As in 1-2 seconds of shaking like a 6.5 earthquake. That saddle is way undersized for that OTA and I am going to be very surprised if we don't see reports of the same or worse from 10" Meade OTA users. My guess would be a 8" OTA is going to be max without some kind of vibration dampening pads.

And now the good...

To be fair the CGEM also dances like a jitterbug with the C11 on it so I wasn't surprised.

It is quieter and moves more smoothly than a CG5 and a CGEM. The CGEM sounds like I am moving a 155mm Howitzer or trying to take off in a Harrier Jump Jet.

The Goto and tracking accuracy were fair. After alignment Mars was almost centered in the 26mm EP as was Saturn. It went right to M13 as well and did to specification on tracking. However it seemed after slewing to get Saturn and Mars more centered in the 8.8 mm ES 82* it lost it's way and started to be off.

For giggles I parked it and it managed to put itself right back where I started. Kind of novel that. So I took a picture to show it.

Tomorrow I will test it in the dual OTA mode with the ES102. If it handles the ES 102mm refractor and the C11 then it will be worth the $800 to me because I can setup both OTA's on it and view in the 102 until the C11 cools down enough to be worth while.

I will also try Polar alignment sometime this weekend. After reading the directions it seems to be a slight variation on the All Star Polar Align used by the CGEM in that it doesn't ask you to move the mount once you have it roughly polar aligned it just asks you to center Polaris in the EP. Not sure how this is going to work out as a serious AP mount based on this but time will tell.

Here are the photos of it...

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lx80 c11 right close 062112

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lx80 c11 rear pointing to spica 062112

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lx80 c11 parked 062112

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lx80 c11 left close 062112

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lx80 c11 front right 062112

#14 jmiele

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 07:32 AM

Not for nothin', but the diagonal bubble level is a pretty slick idea. :)
Thanks for the report. Joe

#15 dr.who

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:14 AM

Cheers Joe.

This weekend's test plan in order of priority is:

1. Dual mount the ES 102 and the C11 in alt/az
This one has me worried because the quality of the Meade weight locks aren't that great and I *REALLY* don't want that 11 lbs weight to come crashing into my ES 102!

2. Shoot video with sound of the LX80 in motion

3. Polar align

4. Confirm tracking over a 30 minute to 1 hour period

5. Power source permitting shoot video with sound of LX80 and CGEM in operation at the same time

Anyone else have something they would like me to test? Can't do PEC yet because I don't have a guider but if someone want's to loan me one...

#16 Zebra24601

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 06:52 PM

I was thinking that Alt-Az would be quicker than equatorial, but now it's sounding more precarious. I'll have to read the instructions, but I would think I could just attach the OTA with the channel level, tighten down the dovetail attachment, figure out the balance that way, then flip the thing into Alt-Az position. Regardless, I'm also thinking I need another counterweight. I'll inquire about that tomorrow. If they don't have one, I'll order it from the Meade store.

#17 dr.who

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 10:33 PM

As did I but as it turns out you balance it just like you would a GEM mount.

And you will most likely need one for your 8". Sorry mate.

#18 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 10:42 PM

Can't do PEC yet because I don't have a guider but if someone want's to loan me one...



What will be of interest is a PEC off, unguided plot to show what sort of PE the mount has.
You can try PEC training if you want to,
( even do it manually with a reticle EP )
but your results will 99.993% sure be crud,
as it appears the existing PEC bug in the
preceding Audiostar firmwares is still
in the new A3S1 firmware.
( be fun to see your results if you try )

Andrew

#19 dr.who

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 07:56 PM

And time for an update. Daytime testing of the LX80 dual mount option was a success. As with everything so far on this mount it was not a fast process. I had to work out the balance on the C11 then repeat it with the ES 102 attached. Following that I had to use a hex wrench to make minor adjustments to the ES102 so that it matched the view in the C11. I got it to the point where the target was within the field of view close to center using a 12mm illuminated reticule EP. The shots through the EP's are *BLEEP* with me holding the camera and shooting in manual mode but it should give you an idea. The C11 shot is with a 26mm EP by the way and is slightly off because I bumped it when I shot the photo and it was still vibrating like a scared rabbit...

Key takeaway here however is that it is a qualified success in terms of two OTA's. The real proof in the pudding will be tonight when I set it up and try it for real.

Oh and yes I know the C11 is upside down and the mount backwards. I was trying out the optics to see if it would work as advertised not aligning and really looking...

... It performs as advertised by the way. At least in viewing a antenna 20ish miles away on a mountain.

Posted Image
lx80 c11 es102 right side dual mount 062312

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lx80 dual mount c11 es102 front 062312

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lx80 c11 es102 rear dual mount 062312

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lx80 c11 es102 left front dual mount 062312

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c11 26mm ep lx80 dual mount 062312
This is badly out of focus and vibrating but you can see the tips of the towers that you will see in the ES102 shot. It is also a few arc seconds off still but that can easily be adjusted via the second saddle hex screws and manually adjusting the DEC. It really makes me hopeful this will work the way it looks like it is going to!

Posted Image
es102 12mm ep lx80 dual mount 062312

#20 Starhawk

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 08:29 PM

Wait, are you sure that's where the C11 and ES102 are in balance? It looks like way too much weight and distance on the refractor side. That's going to bounce like a diving board.

Also, you can just do a star trail to measure the PE. I'm sure a lot of us would very much appreciate that.

Also, please explain more about this hex bolt needed to go between EQ and Alt Az. Do you mean a locking bolt to hold it in position, like I think I saw in one of your photos, or do you mean some sort of drive screw?

Great report- keep going!

-Rich

#21 dr.who

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:32 PM

Hey Rich-

It is not in balance on the RA or DEC. It is in balance only from the standpoint that the tubes are balanced on the rail and do not tilt forward or backward.

I have it set the way it is to counter balance the weight of the C11 I will try in a bit to shorten it and balance in RA/Dec and report back.

I will also do a star trail to measure PE if you can explain to me how to do that please?

#22 dr.who

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 01:21 AM

Rich- Saw your second question. Here is an illustrated photo:

Posted Image
lx80 c11 es102 rear view correct balance dual mount 062312 hex tool and hex bolt

I didn't have a lot of time tonight to execute my test plans because friends and their kids were over so I ended up having an impromptu star party in the yard and the next door neighbor's daughter and son's (adult) girl friend joined us to take a look at the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and M13 instead. Still got to test the dual OTA option.

It was a qualified success. Qualified because it isn't just mount and go. Like everything so far with this mount there was some jiggery pokery that had to go on. While I did not need to shim the second OTA saddle as was reported by someone else I did have to take a hex wrench and dial in the alignment in up and down to match up with the view in the main (C11 OTA) in the end though it was a success because everything was in both scopes at the same time! A very nice feature!

So... It did as advertised. With proper adjustment before hand the two OTA's matched up the same view quite nicely. Happy camper here on that.

However I think I am doing something wrong in terms of alignment. I have north down fine and the OTA's are level but for the second time while I was aligning the alignment stars would not stay centered in the 12mm reticle EP. They would drift down and to the left or up and to the right and it was VERY noticeable and very quick to move. To the point where I had to fight to keep it in place and hit enter quickly... Am I too heavy on one side and not balanced right? Or could it be something else?

And here are shots of it in correct DEC/RA balance:
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lx80 c11 es102 rear view correct balance dual mount 062312
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lx80 c11 es102 correct balance point at saturn 062312

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lx80 c11 es102 correct balance front 062312

#23 JimMo

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 10:37 AM


Also, please explain more about this hex bolt needed to go between EQ and Alt Az. Do you mean a locking bolt to hold it in position, like I think I saw in one of your photos, or do you mean some sort of drive screw?


I believe it is a hex head tool used to move the mount in azimuth and altitude and is stored on the mount. This will be a big improvement over the way the LX55 and LX75 does it especially in elevation.

#24 Starhawk

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 03:46 PM

A star trail can be done where you take the mount and set it up with a poor polar alignment on purpose. This will cause stars to "Trail" as you track and the bad polar alignment drags them across the picture frame. While this is happening, any speed changes on the drive will cause the trails to wiggle, and the divergence between the path of this wiggle and a straight line is your measurement of periodic error.

Now, for this to work, you will also want an image of a plain star field with some features you can measure relative to each other to scale your image. So, for example, you could take a picture of Epsilon Lyrae, the double double, which will produce an image you can scale with some data from somewhere like sky-map.org to get their exact measurements and count pixels to scale the image on your telescope.

This is how periodic error was measured back in the day when there were no digital detectors or computers.

if you can put a DSLR in bulb mode and use a cable release for 3 revolutions of the worm, you should be in business.

-Rich

#25 dr.who

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 04:46 PM

Rich- I will be doing two things (I hope) this afternoon. First is training the drives and second is getting some terrestrial photos through the ES102 on the LX80 so I can figure out back focus and setup. Once I do that I will put your test on my list. As noted my list so far with status and results is:


1. Dual mount the ES 102 and the C11 in alt/az - Complete/Successful

2. Shoot video with sound of the LX80 in motion - Not complete planned for 6/24 or 6/25

3. Polar align - Not complete planned for 6/30

4. Confirm tracking over a 30 minute to 1 hour period - Not complete planned for 6/24 or 6/30

5. Power source permitting shoot video with sound of LX80 and CGEM in operation at the same time - Not complete pending 2nd power source date TBD

6. Star trail for PEC calculation or use of some form of pec tool






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