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Problems at Meade???

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#51 Glen A W

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:20 PM

Roger, I have a 1988 C8 I'd take over any made today, but your point is well taken. They were also pretty expensive back then!

Thomas, I have an original American-made ETX-90. I bought it from JC Penney for around $600! It is still in the box, just like new, for exactly the reasons you describe. I was unaware of the Lightbridge, but I'll file that away in my mind.

I would like to see the company sold before things get any worse. I think it would have been taken over already if not for various provisions in their documents. The market capitalization is only a few million dollars. The real estate and intellectual property are worth far more than that. They have spent the last ten years grinding the company into the ground on no earnings. There is no reason for this. Somebody would buy it.

GW

#52 nytecam

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 04:38 AM

Just got an email from Meade inviting me to buy a LX850 @ US$6000 [10"?] that takes 30min to setup and start imaging. Wow :crazy: Don't think I'll be parting with cash to Meade :smirk:

I'll stick with my obsy polar pier mounted classic 12"LX200 and image within 5min of opening door. Does anyone seriously setup to image from a tripod :question:

#53 DaveJ

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:11 AM

Just got an email from Meade inviting me to buy a LX850 @ US$6000 [10"?] that takes 30min to setup and start imaging. Wow :crazy: Don't think I'll be parting with cash to Meade :smirk: I'll stick with my obsy polar pier mounted classic 12"LX200 and image within 5min of opening door. Does anyone seriously setup to image from a tripod :question:


Check out our club Website here and look at the images by Rick Burke, Jason Shinn and Peter Clausen. Yes, one of Peter's images was featured for several months in an SBIG ad in S&T & Astronomy magazines. All these members set up on tripods each time they image. On that same linked page, John Crilly and Lenny Marek cheat by having roll-off roof observatories and create fabulous images. :grin:

#54 jgraham

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:04 AM

"Does anyone seriously setup to image from a tripod?"

Yes.

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#55 jgraham

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:07 AM

...though I'm endlessly puzzled why Meade gutted the lower end of their product line to offer high-end imaging gear. And no, I can't imagine the LX80 being a worthwhile replacement for the LXD75. It's an interesting product, but nothing like the workhorse LXD75.

Oh well...

#56 A. Viegas

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:17 PM

I started a new post over in General/Astro to discuss some turn-around ideas for saving Meade. Have a look and post your ideas!

--> Wanted: Turnaround Specialist at Meade

Al

#57 JeffBosworth

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:50 PM

I have heard from a trusted source in the industry that Meade is in fact on the verge of bankruptcy. Like others, I would mourn the loss of this venerable company. Celestron was recently at CES (where was Meade?) and announced a LOT of new products, one of which is very exciting - their new SkySense unit. This item essentially does what Meade's LS scopes can do - but it has been smartly modularized so it can be used with ANY of Celestron's newer mounts. It attaches to an OTA via a finder shoe and its hand controller replaces the mounts HC. Why didn't Meade think of that? They had the LightSwitch technology built into their OTAs that couldn't be put on any other mount. Missed opportunity. Are the rumors of their bankruptcy chasing their good engineers and innovators elsewhere?

Meade needs to regroup and restore their competitive edge - if bankruptcy allows that, so be it. The industry needs to foster competition to not only sell more but to serve their customer base better, too. The supposed "limited" market in astronomy reminds me much of the "limited" private pilot market I've participated in. Any product that is labeled for aircraft use by private pilots is instantly double the price that same product would bring in a broader market. Witness things like the accessory market in astronomy - parts that cost pennies to produce overseas are inflated to $50 or $60 once the astronomy label is placed on them.

So it goes. I'll happily pay the prices as long as the goods are high quality - and work as advertised.

#58 jgraham

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:52 PM

Times change I guess. The Celestron we have today is not the Celestron that I oogled over oh so many years ago. Meade may morph into something else as well. Of their present product line I was really only interested in one scope, the Lightbridge 16, and I bought one of those. Everything else is either too cheapified, too cutesyfied, too expensive, or way too expensive for me. I feel very lucky to have had the resources to pick up some nice gear while they were making some pretty good affordable (for me) stuff.

#59 rigelsys

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:16 PM

If the astronomy market was millions of units a year, then things would be pennies apiece to produce and nickles apiece to buy. But the Astronomy market is not that big, and when one is having parts fab'd in 100 quantities or less, it's dollars to tens of dollars apiece to produce -- then add in engineering, design, labor, taxes, marketing, packaging, shipping, handling, and a small but reasonable profit each step of the distribution chain and you get to $60.

Meade's gross is something between $10-$15 million a year. In-and-out burgers makes $2 million a store ... Meade is equivalent to less than 8 burger joints! On the cosmic scale of businesses they're tiny.

I recommend that we be appreciate that small time enterpreneur's who enjoy designing, building and supplying the astronomy hobby products we all enjoy for the service they provide ... I'm always amazed at how much value we get for so few $$. :D



Witness things like the accessory market in astronomy - parts that cost pennies to produce overseas are inflated to $50 or $60 once the astronomy label is placed on them.



#60 Steve Drapak

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:17 PM

I will be so sorry if the company goes. You know someone will get it in bankruptcy court, and it will probably be the Chinese. One thing that used to be a real thrill with these scopes was that they were quality, American made items. I'll use good equipment from anywhere, but the Chinese stuff has never had the same feel to it the old stuff did. Some of this is just the move to plastics and lightweight CNC machined parts, I suppose.


With luck (well, for us, not the local producers), the Chinese quality will progress like the Japanese did years ago. Though with the world economy in the shape it is now, not many people are willing to make good solid products that cost more to make.

#61 Steve Drapak

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:21 PM

I have heard from a trusted source in the industry that Meade is in fact on the verge of bankruptcy


Why don't we band together and set up a Kickstarter.com account to collect reserves and be the ones to buy Meade ourselves? Stranger things have happened at sea... :cool:

#62 Littlegreenman

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:26 PM

Add another factor: optics and metal parts last a long time. Electronics and plastic parts may or may not. What this means for astronomy is that the basic parts, the optics, metal tubes and focusers, and metal mounts and legs--wood legs too, can last a lifetime or more.
Burgers and cars need to be replenished more often.

For a telescope company, this means in the scheme of things their customers during their lifetime are only making a few purchases.

LGM

#63 RealSorin

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:56 PM

Even more to the point, observing is a hobby for most people. You need to eat, and you need transportation, but a telescope or new eyepiece is entirely discretionary. The industry's fortunes also rise and fall with the broader public interest in science and astronomy, in addition to macro-economic factors.

#64 Stew57

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:11 AM

Why don't we band together and set up a Kickstarter.com account to collect reserves and be the ones to buy Meade ourselves? Stranger things have happened at sea...



Meade is a public company so... we could just buy a controlling interest. The risk could be greater but maybe less after a bankruptsy. It is a risky investment either way. The LX850 may turn out to be great but I can't see the LX80 doing much for the company. The LS line got a bad reputation early (deservedly so) and was too expensive at launch. One thing the meades, celestron, and orions lack is good customer service. Where are the parts list with the equipment? Sell all the parts. Be the first.

#65 rcdk

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:08 AM

Put a 6" reflector in Walmart on a dob mount. If people shopping for that first telescope could actually buy something capable of keeping their interest the equipment companies would be doing much better.

#66 bierbelly

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:41 AM

I'll never understand why Meade gutted the lower end of their line and poured money into high-end imaging gear.


Profit margin v. volume. There has to be a shrinking market for astro equipment. If the volume isn't there on the low end, they had to try and compete for the bigger margin...like that was going to happen. Let's see, Meade or Astro Physics....what should I buy...?

#67 stratocaster

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:33 PM

In my opinion Meade's issues have been a long time in the making. When I first got seriously into this hobby was back when the first ETXs came out. My first purchases were an ETX 90 astro and a 10" meade starfinder. The ETX was $599 back then with no tripod and no autostar. The starfinder was $695 with the 'deluxe' cheapo plastic 2" focuser.

As my experience with the ETX grew I realized that I needed to get a tripod - the tabletop experience and the photo tripod just weren't cutting it. So I bought the Meade tripod for the ETX. That wasn't much better than the photo tripod and the leg locks had this habit of slipping. Then I had to get an aftermarket right angle finder because the one that came with the scope was unusable. So now I'm into the ETX to the tune of about $750.

The starfinder was sticky and creaky, though the views were pretty good. The plastic focuser was a joke and had huge image shift problems.

For all intents and purposes I was firmly in the meade camp with my scopes and eyepieces. Then based on a lot of what I read on-line on various telescope sites there always seemed to be optical problems with meade refractors, and customer service was somewhere between so-so and terrible.

I then read about the new ETX with autostar, and kinda lusted after one of those. I remember talking to someone at Pocono Mountain Optics about it (might have been a fellow customer) and he suggested to wait a bit before considering an ETX/autostar purchase so Meade could "get the bugs out". I remember naively thinking "what bugs would need to be worked out." Remember, I was a newbie at the time. Then I started reading about all the software/alignment issues that were incurred by even experienced users.

I then dropped out of the hobby for many years, but when I got back in I vowed to never buy another meade product because of my experience. The products were half-baked upon release and/or a conscious decision was made to use cheapo materials that were just too cheap for the task at hand.

I looked at the announced LX80 with some distant interest because it looked like it might be a great product. So I was interested in seeing if the product would be rolled out half-baked and if the quality of materials would be too cheap for what they were designed to do. Sure enough, it appeared that it was business as usual.

While it may be too late in the short-term, Meade needs to be delivering quality products and providing great customer service. While no doubt pricing plays a role in market share, people would be willing to pay more for perceived value. And I think it's a general lack of value and customer service that over the last many years has brought Meade to its current state.

#68 bierbelly

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:42 PM

I think Meade need to drop back and punt. They have a widely recognized trademark, but in recent years have tried to be everything to everybody.

If they were smart they'd look on here, in the Beginner's section, and see how many posts ask for a telescope at the $200 price range. Is it possible that a decent beginner's telescope can't be made, even with the ready accessibility of Chinese optics, at this price point? Do they all have to be made with plastic tubes and lousy mounts?

Instead, even on their low end they're pushing goto scopes, with questionable electronics.

Wake up Meade. There's a market, it's low end but it's almost entirely unserved. Make a decent 60mm achro on a stable mount and sell it for $200. Christmas comes every year.

#69 Glen A W

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:59 PM

Put a 6" reflector in Walmart on a dob mount. If people shopping for that first telescope could actually buy something capable of keeping their interest the equipment companies would be doing much better.


They won't buy it! So many of the general public I know really just know one thing about scopes - motors buzzing and pointing it at all sorts of things the scope won't show. I think it is worse than back when they sold them based on magnifying power! GW

#70 Lorence

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:29 PM

They won't buy it! So many of the general public I know really just know one thing about scopes - motors buzzing and pointing it at all sorts of things the scope won't show.


The one thing many amateur astronomers refuse to admit is they really can't see a lot through their eyepieces. There a few bright objects but most are nothing more than a vague patch of light.

Considering the quality and quantity of astrophotos available to everyone with a web connection, can you blame newcomers for being disappointed. "Is that all there is to see" is not exactly the best marketing slogan I've ever heard.

There is equipment that will greatly improve one's view but the equipment and those that use it are not considered as true astronomers by the community in general.

Too bad. There are probably many that would be interested in newer technology but when the subject of video and near live viewing comes up the traditionalists get their noses out of joint and demand the video people go back where they belong. Great way to foster interest in the hobby.

For what it's worth and to keep Meade in the subject here's the result of two minutes time on a Meade 10" LX200 ACF.

http://www.mts.net/~...l Res 2 min.jpg

No processing. Image downloaded from camera to the screen then saved to disk.

Of course this is not really astronomy. You have to see it with your own eyes or mash the image data through Photoshop for a few hours before it is really astronomy. Make sure that message is made very clear to any newcomer. Show up with one of those new fangled cameras and you ain't welcome here son.

#71 Starman1

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:03 PM

Interesting picture. Compared to the visual view,
--the image is overexposed in the center
--the outer envelope of the nebula is missing.
--the star images are bloated.
So, not the equal of a visual image.

BUT, that image could have been taken in LA, while the visual image of the nebula in the same locale will not be any better and probably require an expensive filter.

Video astronomy has its place, but the equipment to do it is beyond the budget of beginners. By the time someone is willing to invest in the equipment to make it a reality, they are already outside the realm of the beginners. It isn't going to happen for $300 total outlay, for example, and even $300 is stretching it for most beginners.

Except on the Moon, where a $75 HD video camera could be attached to any telescope that tracks (and I've seen some at <$200 that do) for some great Moon images.

But even that is going to be highly disappointing to a beginner who has been led to believe his $75 60mm refractor will give him full-color, Hubble-like, images visually.

Face it. Meade's woes are those of the astronomy world in general in addition to poor management choices:
--a shrinking demographic. The astronomers I meet at star parties are all getting older and young entries into the hobby are few and far between.
--a poor economy. Discretionary expenditures are still not at pre-2008 levels.
--light pollution. This continues to get worse every year, and 97% of Americans live in heavily light-polluted areas.
--Unrealistic expectations. Most non-informed consumers think that all you have to do is plug any telescope into a computer and you'll get Hubble-quality photographs. They think that computerized scopes are ones that give images when plugged into a laptop. They don't understand about mounts and cameras and tracking and all the issues related to getting such an image. Learning the truth about how an image is produced is an interest-crushing letdown for most of those people.

#72 Alph

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:41 PM

Saw in another thread an item about Meade possibly going bankrupt. Then saw this article too:
http://www.macroaxis...y_Of_Bankruptcy


The cited webpage states
"The Probability Of Bankruptcy for all stocks is 125.19% lower than the firm."
That's a joke. They better go back to school and learn math.
That reminds me of one European politician back in the 90's who promised to lower prices by 100%. He made a laughing stock of himself. People are still mocking him to this day. Little did he know that he basically promised to make everything free. :lol:

#73 csrlice12

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:52 PM

That's another way of saying Meade is 125.19% MORE likely to go bankrupt then their average counterpart (NOT 25% more likely, but 125% or 5 TIMES more likely)--in other words, Meade's doing really bad financially. I agree with what you say though, as the rest of the paragraph was written in just the opposite language, making them appear to say different things when they were really saying basically the same thing...Meade's not doing well against its competitors, nor is it doing well financially. In fact, looking at its other financial data; I'm surprised its still around......

#74 StarStuff1

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 05:52 PM


With luck (well, for us, not the local producers), the Chinese quality will progress like the Japanese did years ago. Though with the world economy in the shape it is now, not many people are willing to make good solid products that cost more to make.


The Chinese have the ability to make astro stuff every bit as good as the importer/distributer is willing to pay for it.

#75 D. Perry

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

They've been operating on financially thin ice for years now. It's important to remember that filing for bankruptcy protection does not necessarily mean a company will fold and disappear. It's a chance for them to make good on debts and restructure their business.

The mistakes Meade has made over the years are too many to list, both from a product and a business perspective. But they have 3 core flaws in my opinion: (1) The people who run the business move forward way to easily and quickly on the ideas their product and marketing managers put forth. This leads to poorly conceived products for which the market is questionable. (2) They make mechanically sloppy devices thinking they can software engineer them back to "observatory-like" performance. It just don't work that way. And (3), very closely related to the first two, Meade often introduces their products as geared for beginners... yet they price them way out of reach for most people who might be insterested in such a product.

Their Lightswitch is clearly a telescope for beginners. It does everything for you, narrates, has lots of bells and whistles (that come off as gimmicky), etc. The 8" is $2,000!

Their extremely clumsy-looking LX850 mount is $6,000?! Anyone in the market for a $6,000 mount will probably turn to Losmandy or Astro-Physics before they ever consider Meade's contraption.

Meade is a company that doesn't know what it wants to be, so it tries to be everything to everyone.

I don't intend to bash Meade. I absolutely don't want to see them go away. I just think they have been a misguided and poorly managed company for a long time. And it's sad to see a company suffer partly because of their own actions. They need a CEO who has the knowledge and leadership to get them to profitability, someone who will likely sell off or shut down the less profitable divisions, replace some marketing folks with high level engineers and product developers, condense their product lines, and focus on who they want their customer to be.

Ugh... I feel like I could go on and on, but looking back at what I've written, I think I've gone on too long already. :-)

I DO wish them the best.






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