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LX850 12"

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#1 ngc2264

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:32 PM

I've been lurking on the LX850 forums for awhile now with nothing to post. But now, the LX850 I ordered finally arrived and I've already got one night of use with it! I don’t have too much experience with astrophotography, so I was excited about it. I was hoping the mounts features would get me imaging more quickly than if I had to do everything myself; and with more confidence than if I'd done it myself. Rather than figure out how to use the mount under the night sky, I read almost the entire instructional manual while I waited for the mount to arrive.

The box they pack the mount in is huge and just looking at the size of it reassured me the mount was well protected during shipping. One thing I didn’t expect was how heavy the mount is out of the box. They attach the DEC counterweight to the mount at the factory that adds an additional eight pounds to lift up on top of the already 50lb mount. A quick fix to lighten the load is to remove the 8 lb counterweight while it's still in the box and lock down the clutches so the mount doesn't flop around when you're lifting it onto the tripod. Don’t kid yourself, the mount is still heavy. With the mount in place on the tripod, the counterweight shaft and counterweights thread on. This can be a time consuming process since you have to thread each counterweight on rather than slide and lock it in place like my last mount. This is a small price to pay to making astrophotography so simple. One thing I really like about the LX850 is the saddle plate design. It lets you use either a Losmandy or a Vixen style dovetail by simply reversing the saddle plate-locking rails. This makes using my other OTAs with this mount a possibility without additional equipment. Connecting the control panel was also a bit of a pain since you have to route connecting wires to the RA motor through the mount. It was quick to do and soon I was attaching the ota. Lifting the 12" ota wasn’t too difficult and it attached to the saddle plate with ease. I was almost done setting up the mount.

When the mount was fully setup and balanced, I powered on the mount and ran the one star alignment which has you center Polaris and one additional star which the mount chooses. This was quick to do and from this point on, the starlock guide scope did most of the work. The first thing I noticed when it slewed was how quite and smoothly it slewed. No more Meade coffee grinder sound! My object slews were spot on putting objects in the center portion of the DSI III with high precision. I was surprised on how transparent the starlock operated. It never asked me to center nearby bright stars, select a guide star, or enter an exposure time; it did all this by itself. Finding targets in the sky was always troubling for me as previous mounts usually didn't put the intended target on the ccd. But with Starlock, it didn’t miss a target. I don’t think I could ever go back to a non-starlock equipped scope and have so much fun finding objects. I slewed around the sky for a while finding objects before settling down to start taking images.

To use starlock at its full potential, I first needed a better polar alignment so I ran the Automatic drift alignment routine. It’s a first of its kind as far as I can tell. Usually my manual drift alignments can take 30 minutes or more before I'm confident I have a good alignment with no drift in 5 min. A lot of people I know are too intimidated to learn the drift alignment process, so I know the LX850 would be perfect for them. Many people already know drift aligning is easy once you get the hang of it, its just time consuming. With the automatic drift alignment feature, now anyone can do it. Starlock first slews to and locates a southern star and begins imaging. It can't make the needed mechanical adjustments to the mount required to refine your polar alignment, so instead, it tells you how many turns of the azimuth knob are needed to get you better aligned. Next, it slewed to a star in the east and did the same thing, telling me how many turns of the latitude were needed. It took about 15 minutes to complete the process which is much faster than I can do manually. This is a big time saver and another great feature of Starlock.

I didn't plan on taking really long exposures, but I still wanted to get the best image possible so I trained the periodic error out of the mount by running the PEC training routine. I slewed to a bright star on the equator and Starlock began recording the stars movement. I did the training three times total to get the best results which took about 20 minutes. Since the LX850 has permanent periodic error correction, I won't have to do the training again for awhile.

The LX850 has another feature my previous mounts didn't, its called Automatic guideRate Calibration or ARC. This feature improves the starlock guiding performance by optimizing the aggressiveness of the guide corrections. Since the magnitude of the guide corrections are partially dependant on the localized seeing conditions, this is a great feature that was added by Meade. And again, it's automatic.

As you all know, there's a lot of steps required before you start imaging. The great thing about starlock is that it makes them all automatic. So instead of me squatting on the ground looking through an eyepiece for 30 minutes drift aligning, I'm doing other things.

I finally got to the imaging part and it was only 10 pm but the clouds were starting to roll in. I slewed to M101 using the hand controller and one minute later, it appeared in the center of my ccd sensor. I was excited, starlock was already at work. I refined the focus on my camera and started imaging for five minutes. The first image looked good so I kept imaging, waiting for a bad image to appear. Surprisingly it never appeared and I was happy with the results. Not bad for my first image with the LX850!




The mount was handling the 5 minute sub frames well, so the next question was can it do 10 minute subs?


The stars are a bit bloated. If I knew how to process the photos, I'm sure I could get better images but for now I'm happy. Hoping for more clear nights!

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#2 ngc2264

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:41 PM

M82. 10 min subs for 50 min

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#3 herrointment

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 07:48 PM

I am happy for you and for Meade!

#4 rigel123

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 09:03 PM

Congrats and great write up!

#5 David Pavlich

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 09:32 PM

Looks like it's working!! :jump:

David

#6 jrcrilly

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 10:12 PM

Thanks for the very detailed report!

#7 Hilmi

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 12:04 AM

If you have as little experience with astrophotography as implied then as a first attempt at 2400mm those pictures are literally shockingly good. Seems that all you need to work on is the focus, calibration and processing techniques. I'm impressed.

#8 mmalik

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 02:22 AM

Reads like "Meade"...

#9 Hilmi

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:13 AM

Thats a cynical view. Give them a breather, I think they are on to something here.

I can also see the same tech being introduced to a lighter weight class mount for short focal length imaging.

#10 mmalik

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:58 AM

My comment was not directed at you Hilmi.

#11 shams42

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:13 AM

Both of those images show slightly elongated stars.

#12 Hilmi

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:28 AM

Both of those images show slightly elongated stars.


2400mm is not a joke and the elongation is minimal. Could even be due to loose camera, collimation, wind etc...

Its also not enough to cause trouble after processing. If you want perfection buy an AP or SB mount. For point here dummy operation you get an lx850. Different target market. Price is also a matter what the market will accept so lets not get into that argument

#13 KevH

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:41 AM

Reads like "Meade"...


Do you only post in Meade threads? The above post is, in my opinion, absurd and very speculative.

#14 Raginar

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:47 AM

Hilmi,

For automatic, I agree. Pretty amazing at 2400mm. The first image has some elongation the others are much better. I wonder if you did the aggressiveness routine at each target you'd get better results.

I bet after a few nights you'll be imaging like a pro :).

#15 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:04 AM

Seeing conditions, wind, mole people. These all can cause issues.

These things are shipping and starting to get into the hands of more and more people. Not all of them could be a Meade spy. I suppose it is safe to give it all six months to shake out and see how things are going. How is Meade doing as a company? What are people saying about their LX850's now? Anything breaking? Once satisfied you can make an informed decision.

I for one am encouraged by what I see. I think the post is legit especially when you compare his experience with Glens.

Tony will have his next week and we'll have a third report back. Not everyone is on Jason Ware's level and I think reports from people that are giving AP a try are worth more than people that are advanced/experts in that regard.

#16 jrcrilly

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:13 AM

Reads like "Meade"...


Do you only post in Meade threads? The above post is, in my opinion, absurd and very speculative.


I'm awaiting delivery of an LX850 mount (purchased at retail). I hope that when I start posting about it I am not accused of being a shill. For one thing, plenty of folks know me and know that I have no brand loyalty whatever (especially to Meade; haven't owned any Meade gear for years) and have no commercial relationships with anyone in the industry. For another, it would be highly offensive and not the kind of thing we want to see on CN.

-edit- In other words, the poster who started this thread has something to say which is of interest to many of us. Let's permit him to speak.

#17 David Pavlich

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 12:42 PM

Reads like "Meade"...


Do you only post in Meade threads? The above post is, in my opinion, absurd and very speculative.


I'm awaiting delivery of an LX850 mount (purchased at retail). I hope that when I start posting about it I am not accused of being a shill. For one thing, plenty of folks know me and know that I have no brand loyalty whatever (especially to Meade; haven't owned any Meade gear for years) and have no commercial relationships with anyone in the industry. For another, it would be highly offensive and not the kind of thing we want to see on CN.

-edit- In other words, the poster who started this thread has something to say which is of interest to many of us. Let's permit him to speak.


+1! Well said, John.

David

#18 DrOxygen

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 01:20 PM

Thanks so much for a great writeup. Sounds like you have a great mount there. Of course you realize that pictures of the mount will be required! :rules:

#19 Mantis707

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:23 PM

Thanks John!

I have been waiting months for user reviews for this line of products, and it is frustrating to have to read through comments and bad mouthing by people who haven't even seen or touched these.....

Thank you to the OP and anyone else who has used these products for taking the extra time to post pictures and hands-on comments, it is really and truly appreciated...

I am so excited to see more actual user reviews and first light reports.....I'm certainly not a meade 'fan boy' I am just rooting for them as a general astronomy fan, as I think new technology and competition can only be a positive thing for the community as a whole....success and innovation builds on itself, so it is kind of odd to see some people seemingly root for a Meade failure...at least to me.

Please keep the pictures and reports coming, guys! It is fascinating to read the reports (good or bad) of ACTUAL users.

A million thanks,

Mantis

#20 KevH

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:48 PM

Just to be clear, my post was regarding mmalik's speculative remark. It was in no way directed at the original poster. I hope no one took it that way, particularly ngc2264. Those images look great!

#21 galaxy_jason

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 05:47 PM

You may want to play with the auto calibrated RA and DEC values. I find that the auto set may be a bit too aggressive if you do a good job of training the PE. I am using a production mount now and the RAW PE is around 6 arc seconds. Starlock training of the PE is not quite as good as PEMPro because its just an average, PEMPro does a Fourier analysis. After generating the values watch a star in focus mode with your camera and back off if it over corrects. I am using 10% for both RA and DEC which means I have a very good polar alignment and Starlock isn't having to do much work since the drive is running so well.

Not all mounts coming off the line will be that good but no matter, with training you can get to around 5 arc seconds which is no problem for Starlock guiding.

Give us some feedback on the auto polar alignment, I didn't do much testing there, I generally use PEMPro for that.

#22 Pak

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:20 AM

You may want to play with the auto calibrated RA and DEC values. I find that the auto set may be a bit too aggressive if you do a good job of training the PE. I am using a production mount now and the RAW PE is around 6 arc seconds. Starlock training of the PE is not quite as good as PEMPro because its just an average, PEMPro does a Fourier analysis. After generating the values watch a star in focus mode with your camera and back off if it over corrects. I am using 10% for both RA and DEC which means I have a very good polar alignment and Starlock isn't having to do much work since the drive is running so well.

Not all mounts coming off the line will be that good but no matter, with training you can get to around 5 arc seconds which is no problem for Starlock guiding.

Give us some feedback on the auto polar alignment, I didn't do much testing there, I generally use PEMPro for that.


Ok where do I start.

As a beta tester you haven't tested those things? You are coming right out and saying that the built in drift alignment, Starlock assisted PEC training and auto rate calibration routine are not good enough for you? What is the whole point of this mount again?

Also you seem to imply that Meade has sent you a good mount and that everyone else shouldn't expect to get near 6as native uncorrected PE?

Interesting. I have no doubt that Meade would make sure to hook you up with a choice mount and OTA. That just makes sense. However I can't help but wonder what the others here *recieved* received.


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*fixed it for you*

#23 Pak

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:53 AM

Reads like "Meade"...


While I don't think that this is a Meade employee trying to pass themselves off as a genuine end user, it does however read like someone who has a special relationship with Meade (beta tester) and wrote out this mini-review and got a thumbs up from Meade to post it. Obviously I am in no position to know either way but I kinda agree here. This seems to be a dual purpose first light report.

Also while everyone has to post for the first time for some reason or another, seems suspicious that this users has only two posts on CN and both in this thread. Just sayin'..


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#24 Raginar

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:11 AM

Pak,

Are you trolling for a reason? Please stop. Some of are trying to learn about a new mount.

#25 Pak

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:25 AM

Pak,

Are you trolling for a reason? Please stop. Some of are trying to learn about a new mount.


Not trolling just providing a reality check. Before someone pays money for the honor of lacing up their Nike's and drinking the cool aid, I think a little caution is in order.

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