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My Meade LX80 journey of discovery ;)

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#26 Starhawk

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 04:55 PM

Do 6 before 4; the imaging setup will get your star trail before polar alignment. A long exposure as part of 4 will reveal your true image scale. Thus you only have to do polar alignment once.

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#27 Stew57

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 05:07 PM

Do 6 as 4 is not that real important. A good polar alignment and correct sidreal tracking rate should keep the object centered in an eyepiece even if it oscillates back and forth due to massive PE.

#28 Zebra24601

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 08:35 PM

OK, found something annoying about the LX80. It's a good news/bad news thing. The good news is that the dovetail channels are very deep (over 1/2") and the set screws are also thick, and separated by about three inches. That should help create a secure attachment, under most conditions. Unfortunately, I have discovered two conditions where it will not work:

1. My Celestron 100ED comes with an integrated cradle/dovetail set up. The cradle assembly prevents the dovetail from seating flush to the bottom of the channel. Won't be able to use the 100ED on this mount unless I buy a set of rings and a new dovetail.

2. When I bought my 60mm Coronado, I specifically bought the Meade LXD75 dovetail because I wanted to make sure I had a secure fit between the Coronado's cradle assembly and the dovetail. My Orion dovetail didn't do that. Well, the problem here is that there's a 3.75" long indentation on the inside of the dovetail channel. The LXD75 dovetail is only slightly longer than the cut. That means it is impossible to slide the dovetail more than a fraction of an inch before either the front or the back end of the dovetail slips into the channel cut and causes the scope to become misaligned with the dovetail. Would the mount still be able to track accurately? I suppose it would, but it would look funny and not be as secure an attachment as it should.

I noticed today that a few places are selling LX80 dovetails, but none have pictures. I wonder if the dovetails are either significantly longer or slightly shorter than 3.75"? If slightly shorter, the block would fit right inside the cut and be secure, although you would be unable to move the telescope forward or backwards to achieve a balance. If somewhat longer than 3.75", then there'd be no problem with sliding the dovetail forward or backwards to achieve balance.

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#29 Zebra24601

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 08:41 PM

The indentation may be less than obvious in that picture. Here's one of just the dovetail channel. Obviously, both are of the "spare" dovetail, but it's identical to the one on the other end of the counterweight bar:

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#30 Zebra24601

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 08:51 PM

With the safety screws on my LXD-55 8" SCT, there is, again, very little room to work with getting a balance. Not a problem with smaller 1.25" eyepieces, but if I were to insert a 2" or some of my weightier 1.25" eyepieces, I wouldn't be able to achieve balance. Of course, given the way this mount accepts dovetails (sideways), the safety screws don't appear to serve any useful purpose on this dovetail!

On the positive side, it was a piece of cake to slide the 8" SCT into the dovetail channel.

I have a feeling when I try the 11", I will shuffle the order of adjustments so that I can place the OTA with the dovetail facing down rather than sideways. I'll wait until the additional counterweight comes before trying that, though.

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#31 Zebra24601

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 09:04 PM

In addition to the SCT above, I had another CAT to deal with as I set my mount up. She plopped herself down right where I needed to stand to make the adjustments!

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#32 dr.who

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 09:08 PM

Hey Zebra-

The solution to your problem is to swap the Losmandy rail with a Vixen one. Farpoint and ADM make them. I am using one from Farpoint on my C11 and it works fine for visual.

#33 dr.who

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 09:10 PM

Right but that would be in EQ mode not Alt/Az. I was going to test alt/az first. I assumed that with fair to good polar I would be ok over time with it but I was taught long ago about the word assume aka azz u me so I will do so. So I will play with the camera setup then.

#34 jpmoneystar

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 04:44 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.

How long an ota can be mounted? i have a 12" newtonian 1500 focal do you think it would be okay alt/azm mode and/or gem. i too got mine but since im not experienced enough i dont want to attempt until i read more. i didnt like that it only comes with 10" max. I am not to good yet at polar align but i like the ability to unscrew and manually adjust if its goto is off a bit. Thanks for you review.

#35 dscarpa

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 05:40 PM

I know what you mean about trying to put a heavy OTA on side saddle in alt az mode. Doing so with my C9.25 on the Giro is scary. As to the LX80 it sounds like a nice mount but too much of a production and too heavy for me. I fear my dream of a stand alone LS type mount will remain just that. David

#36 Zebra24601

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:50 PM

On the other hand, the handles are nice. I could move the entire setup (tripod, mount, 8" SCT and counterweight) from the garage to the driveway in one carry. No way I could do that with the Sirius.

The problem with viewing from the driveway is I literally have half a sky to work with. Impossible to do a decent selection of alignment stars. Also, the light pollution and marine layer just made observing pointless. It's clearer tonight, but I don't have the motivation to set it up on a weeknight. Too tired. And this weekend is an urban outreach weekend. The weekend after that, however, I may try to get somewhere dark (unless my second job starts up by then, in which case my observing schedule is going to take areal hit).

#37 Joe Ogiba

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:43 AM

Doing so with my C9.25 on the Giro is scary.


I put the two 11 lb counter weights on my Tele-Optic Giro-2 Deluxe Alt-Az Mount before mounting my C9.25 and never had a stability problem.
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#38 dr.who

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:47 AM

How long an ota can be mounted? i have a 12" newtonian 1500 focal do you think it would be okay alt/azm mode and/or gem. i too got mine but since im not experienced enough i dont want to attempt until i read more. i didnt like that it only comes with 10" max. I am not to good yet at polar align but i like the ability to unscrew and manually adjust if its goto is off a bit. Thanks for you review.


I think that you would be over the limit with that size OTA. If memory serves me it is going to be upwards of 5 feet long and about 50ish lbs. There is not much out there for that size OTA... Maybe a Celestron CGE...?

#39 dr.who

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 10:51 AM

I know what you mean about trying to put a heavy OTA on side saddle in alt az mode. Doing so with my C9.25 on the Giro is scary. As to the LX80 it sounds like a nice mount but too much of a production and too heavy for me. I fear my dream of a stand alone LS type mount will remain just that. David


I wouldn't give up just yet David. After doing it a couple of times it has gotten easier and less of a PITA. It's like putting the OTA on an 8SE with one extra step actually.

#40 dr.who

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 11:11 PM

Well... After a problem with the tripod (documented by others) and a really really bad night at my local star party with the mount doing all kinds of strange things in terms of alignment (there is a firmware update that does take care of some alignment problems discovered and the trouble I was having seemed to be caused by these bugs) the LX80 journey of discovery is now officially at an end.

Farrah from Woodland Hills Telescope found out I had an RMA call in with Meade over the tripod and about the problems at the star party and told me not to ship the tripod back to Meade. She told me to bring it in for either a replacement or a full refund.

Off topic...
Talk about customer service! I really cannot say enough good things about these guys! She really went above and beyond to help me out here and take it back for a full refund.

On topic...
After thinking about it I realized that the LX80 is a good mount for what it does in the price range it does it in but it didn't allow me to accomplish what I wanted to with it because the setup time for dual ota took longer and was more fussy in terms of getting the two scopes aligned than it would for me to simply setup a CG5 and my CGEM and have an OTA on each.

I also came to the realization that even though I was using it in alt/az mode I still had to balance whatever scope(s) that were on it the same way I would with a EQ mount again saving me no time and effort.

Combine all this with the other issues identified with the mount that were not problems with mine (yet) like the worm gears popping out and the tracking issues and I realized that this really wasn't the value add I thought it would be.

So I traded it in for a Celestron CG5-ASGT with an Orion Skywatcher 16" pier extension.






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