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Recently purchased LX90 12" ACF

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#26 dan_uk

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:01 PM

Thank you for the reply NG, I don't think you're being mean at all actually and you're quite right that i've turned this into a situation where I could feel disappointed in my choice either way just for being so obsessive about making the right choice!

I spoke to a few different stores here today and have finally made a decision that I will stick to!

It is actually due to a comment you made on the previous page about possibly upgrading to a CGEM /DX in the future.

I am quite happy with my OTA and I think the CGEM DX is a far better mount then the LX200 if I do delve into photography.
Doing the math on this it makes sense as the LX200 will potentially cost me £2059 including the wedge where as the CGEM DX is £1789 and it can be purchased whenever I am ready rather than rushing to return my LX90.
Both of the guys I spoke to in the stores say that the Celestron Nexstar software is quite nice to use as well.

I do have a couple of questions, I don't plan on converting to a GEM so soon but it would be good to be re-assured that my plan is feasible.

1. I have been told several times that my OTA is the same as the one that is on the LX200 however I believe it is missing the primary mirror lock. What exactly is this for? I assume for safety during transport? I read that "Mirror Flop" may be a possibility when moving the OTA to a GEM.
2. Has anyone got any experience with handling a CGEM DX? I understand that parts are heavy and there are counter weights but it does split up quite nicely.
3. My OTA is rated at 36.6lbs and the regular CGEM is rated to 40lbs, with the stock finder + eye piece and a camera would this be an option?
4. Are there any comparably priced GEMs that anyone would recommend for my OTA?


Thanks again to everyone who posted!

#27 nitegeezer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:21 PM

I thought the OTAs were identical, if you don't have the mirror lock, that makes it interesting. For visual I never use the mirror lock. For photography I also have the electric focuser so I use the knob to get course focus and then lock the mirror. Without the lock I think you can still work but you always want to finish focus in the same direction and I believe that is CCW, as this helps reduce any mirror issues.

As for the GEMs, I know they are available but that is about the extent of my knowledge.

#28 dan_uk

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 12:54 PM

Think that might have thrown me off again! Just did some reading around and it seems like "mirror flop" while using an focuser may become more apparent with the 12" as the mirror is heavier.

Adding in a mirror lock seems like it could be dangerous and would obviously void my warranty.

Think i'm back to the torment of indecision again!

#29 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:23 PM

Dan,

I think you are WAYYYY over thinking and being thrown in many directions.

So lets keep this simple:
* The LX90 is a wonderful telescope for visual astronomy and taking some picts of the Sun (with FILTERS), Moon and planets. You can also take some great piggy back pictures with a DSLR mounted on the LX90.

* LX200 is an excellent next step up telescope. I have used mine for 21+ years with Superwedge with no problems what so ever. I take fine unguided pictures with it. Add a guide system and pictures will be even more drool worthy.

* You want to go pro level? Don't want to worry about image shift and mirror flop? One option is the LX600. This is now shipping, but my guess is you won't see one until late summer due to the heavy backorder.

* You want a GEM and REALLY go all out - and an excellent turnkey solution? LX850.

-- Other points: Mirror flop will happen on a GEM or Fork. Depends on the OTA setup.
-- I would NOT overload the CGEM. An LX200 will beat an overloaded CGEM any day.
-- Are you are thinking of going GEM now? Fork is an excellent compromise and my bet will cover 95% of what you want to do. Issues with GEM - meridian flip, and to do proper AP it will be a heavier unit than a fork. BUT - it breaks down into smaller pieces. For a 12" OTA and doing AP right, you will be spending the BIG money for a GEM. Hence the Fork becomes an excellent option.
-- No matter what anyone tells AP does get expensive. Tough to do it on the cheap. You get what you pay for. Again, the LX200 is a great all around telescope.
-- NextStar is nice, but I also love my Meade control software. The protocols for the LX200 are very common (a lot were built!) and extensible. It was very easy for me to hook up an iPad, iPhone and Macintosh to wirelessly control my LX200 at the touch of a finger.

You have a good scope with the LX90. If you want to do the step up, then go with the LX200. If you think you want to take top notch AP, and feel the LX200 does not suffice, then you will be spending the big money. Otherwise you will need to go to a smaller OTA for the CGEM.

#30 ldesign1

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 05:35 PM

In my opinion, you should consider the LX200GPS or the newer LX600 in the 10" version. This will be a lot more manageable at in your later years. And you would still have the best in electronics and mechanics. Also, if you go GEM later on, you won't overload your mount as much when you add a guide scope a camera.

#31 nitegeezer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 06:47 PM

I want to add a little more to my comments about the mirror lock, I had to run earlier and missed a couple of things.

First off, I did think the OTAs were identical so if I lead you astray I apologize.

Most of the use my scope gets is visual although that will be changing to more like 50-50. I never use the mirror lock during visual nights. I do use the mirror lock when I am taking photos, but this creates another problem. I have been told that if the mirror is locked, the focus mechanism can be damaged if the knob is turned. I have a small bungee that I wrap around the focus knob and mirror lock to remind me to unlock first. I found myself going for that focus knob a number of times, and stopped, but I could see it was only a matter of time. I have been told that if the focus knob is finished in the push mode rather than pull, the mirror is real solid. Since I have the lock I have not experimented with this, but I have seen pictures from the older OTAs before the focus lock was available and I only hope to get that good someday.

#32 dan_uk

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:04 PM

If I consider what I would like from what I'm considering to be my only telescope purchase for a good few years here is what I'm trying to achieve:

Good Visual - this is something I will be doing straight away

AP - this is something I would like to do later without making a purchase of more then £2000 with the ability to take prolonged exposures.

Portability - I have found that I am able to cope with my LX90 12" fine by myself. Speaking to Meade directly I have found that the LX200 is 6.8kg heavier in 12" which seems reasonable to me especially with the case I purchased.
Most of the weight seems to be in the tripod which has more then doubled in weight to 20kg.

I had it in mind that I could defork the LX90 in the future for a CGEM DX which would have been able to handle the 36.6lb OTA, this seemed like the ideal to me as I had the option to upgrade later and enjoy the lighter package whilst getting to grips with Visual.

I feel like the LX90 OTA is no longer an option, the guy I spoke to at Meade said that mirror flop would be an issue in the future if I mounted this on a GEM.

So I feel like the LX90 has been completely ruled out and I am now deciding between pre-ordering an LX600 or just grabbing the LX200.
As far as I am aware both of these should fulfil my criteria although I would say the LX200 pushes the boundaries on portability and one man setup.

NG, no worries about the idential OTA bit, the guy who sold me this said the same thing.

I apologise for the flip flopping around on the forum with my decision, I really do appreciate all the advice I have had so far. I hope you can understand me being so indecisive as this really is a huge one off purchase for me and I just want to ensure I make it the right one!

*edit
One other option i've considered is buying an LX200 OTA and a CGEM DX which actually works out to be almost the same price as a full LX200

#33 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:24 PM

Dan,

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

First the LX200 OTA w/CGEM - I am still very mixed on this. If you are doing visual AND AP, I think it is just better to go with the LX200 complete kit vs. GEM. Better options (alt-az AND polar, proven setup, long history). Understand the fork vs. GEM is a huge debate on its own! Again I have had a LOOOONG successful history with the LX200 and very pleased with this telescope.

Now LX200 vs. LX600. Technically the LX600 creams the LX200 on all fronts - F/8 OTA, crayford focuser, more portable due to the split fork and of course Starlock, a turnkey guiding, alignment solution all nicely packaged - you don't even need a computer!

Problem with the LX600 - you will likely have to wait until June/July. They are now shipping, but Meade is filling a huge backorder. Now, if your dealer has a LX600 - GET IT!

If you don't want to wait until June/July/August then get the LX200 with a Zero Image-Shift microfocuser and superwedge.

#34 dan_uk

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:35 PM

Could I just ask for a few of the basic downsides to using the GEM? The only plus it has for me is that overall will weigh less and the heaviest single item would be the tripod!

LX600 certainly looks really attractive but there's always the possiblity of bugs and stuff with new things and I cannot find a review on it anywhere yet. Of course waiting until June/July would probably be optimistic for a UK purchase! I would be willing to pay the extra £££ though seems well worth it to me.

Also how would the LX600 OTA compare to the LX200? I understand its would be outstanding for AP , would this be good for visual also?

#35 nitegeezer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 08:03 PM

I don't know about the 600 but I want to add more to the confusion.

I don't think that you are going to find one scope that fills all of your needs. I will never part with my 200, but it does limit the field of view. At some point I will probably get a good refractor as there are times that the CO becomes a real pain. Rather than looking for a one for all, you might want to look at what set of scopes would be best, and pick one of those. That one I am still thinking on.

Regarding the downsides to a GEM, the first thing that comes to mind is the shaft and counter weight sticking out one side. In the dark that can snag things until you get used to it. The need one is not too bad with an SCT as it is easy to rotate the diagonal, but with a Newtonian the scope may need to be rotated in the rings to get the eyepiece out where it is usable. This can vary significantly between objects. The biggest thing I do not like is the scope moving so much. When I do star parties for the school or scouts, with forks everything is pretty much in the same place all the time. With a GEM, sometimes the scope is on one side of the tripod, sometimes on the other and there is the counter weight hanging out on the opposite side, watching out for all this with the kids and the dark is a challenge.

#36 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 08:44 PM

Dan,

The simple pro-con
Fork Pro:
-- Overall cost is lower. Trust me for the right mount for a given OTA it is cheaper than a GEM. Yeah, you can max out a cheap GEM, but be careful!
-- Easy to set-up
-- Versitile. Alt-az or polar!
-- You can track the meridian uninterrupted.

Fork-Con:
-- Key components are heavy, though the LX600 seems to address this issue.
-- GEM can be more stable than a fork FOR THE CORRECT OTA size.
-- Cannot swap out OTA.

GEM Pro:
-- Excellent for long exposure AP.
-- Less possibility of flexure
-- its components break down to lighter elements.
-- Interchange instruments

GEM Con:
-- More expensive (matching the correct mount with the correct OTA).
-- Set-up longer, more steps than a fork (way more steps!).
-- No alt-azimuth mode
-- Cannot track through the Meridian.

Lots of debate on this (almost to religious levels!), but these are the bullet points in a nutshell. FYI, for a simple comparison the 14" LX850 (GEM) weighs in around 275 lbs! 14" LX600 (Fork) - I want to say around 180 lbs with wedge.

Yes, you can put a 12" OTA on a smaller GEM, but, um, it kind of defeats the purpose for ap. Just sayin'!

#37 nitegeezer

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:12 PM

This is turning into one of my favorite threads. I have taught kids how to find objects with a manual GEM using setting circles, and reading Andrews comparison it is now obvious, but I had never realized it could not track through the meridian. We would jump between objects to show the fun it creates, but that was always early in the evening, and when it got dark we would move to my LX200 for viewing. Since the best viewing is directly overhead, that con is a big one. Thank you much for pointing that out, I will add that to my class notes.

I always start out my presentation with something like "if something I say conflicts with your science teacher, believe your teacher", this is a great example of that.

This really does puzzle me about the popularity of a GEM. I have been told that a GEM is much better for ap. Since that seems to be the popular opinion I have always just accepted it and figured I would deal with it the best I could with my forks. But, since the best viewing and therefore ap is straight up, why is the GEM considered so much better? That would lead me to believe that forks on a wedge was by far the best. If both are properly aligned, both only need one motor to track which would tend to make them equal until the meridian is added in. Why is there the opinion that a GEM will track better, is it because they force you to be better balanced? The more I learn the more confused I get!!

#38 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:55 PM

nitegeezer,

First off, like I said before, the GEM vs. Fork thing strikes me as a "religious" issue. People are passionate about it.

For me the only choice was Fork. Very easy to set up, align and easy to use. For most astrophotography, especially the ones for us mere mortals, the fork mount is fine.

Where the GEM is better for AP is in that for 14" Fork you have this huge beast further off the cg, making it slightly less stable than a GEM. Also, there is the issue of flexure in a fork especially for the larger tubes. So for a 12" or 14" the GEM has an advantage over the fork for long exposure AP. But then again there is that meridian flip issue!

For visual though the Fork is the way to go. And you noted this by experience.

The other popular point is for the bigger scopes the fork assembly can be very heavy - 110 lbs! This can be a deterrent for use. Now the GEM is heavier over all, but has smaller, lighter components. Note - for the 12" Meade OTA you WILL need a substantial GEM. Interestingly enough, the LX600 seems to have corrected this problem.

BTW, for video astronomy I see no advantage with the GEM.

The GEM has its place, but I can't figure out why the boom in it for everything.

Having said this, I did go with the GEM LX850 over the Fork LX600. Initially I picked the LX800...then came the LX600 and that fit the bill for me.

But as I looked more at the LX850 (when it was announced) I realized the 14" is so big I needed more manageable chunks (though assembled it will be much heavier than the LX600). Also Meade was throwing in a couple of extra goodies like zero image-shift microfocuser, 2" diagonal and vibration pads. Lastly I was thinking in the future I might add a Series 6000 APO Refractor - I needed versatility. So, I bounced back from the LX600 to the LX850. Let me say though, if Meade had announced the new fork mount LX600 at the same time as the LX850 and was available at the same time I would have likely moved back to the LX600 (I sound confused like all of you - decisions, decisions!). However as my compromise I will be keeping my 10" LX200. Heck, it works great and is a fantastic telescope! The LX850 for the observatory and a few select events, and the LX200 for the local astro club events.

I guess the point is we all have different needs. However the fork is a better all around system vs the GEM for all the reasons stated. And you can take same great photos with the Fork OTA.

#39 ldesign1

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 10:57 PM

I have absolutely no problems tracking at the full focal length of 2500mm of my 10" LX200GPS up to 10 minute exposures. I have a permanent setup on a wedge, pier, and observatory. I use an EON 80ED as my guide scope. I've eliminated all flexure from my setup and I've taken the time to polar align to within arc-seconds error according to PemPro polar alignment routine. I've only had to throw out frames due to airplanes, satellites, and the occasional wind gust that enters through my observatory slit. I sometimes shoot at 5000mm for 5 minute exposures with no problems. See image below.

Posted Image

Maybe I'm doing something wrong with my Atlas EQ-G, but I get more tracking errors from the GEM than my LX200GPS.

Orion was shot through my EON 80ED refractor mounted on top and used the LX200GPS as the guider.

Posted Image

#40 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 11:07 PM

Ralph,

You hit it spot on! Great photos too!

And when I say long duration photos some people thing 1 hour. But with autoguiding, short exposures with stacking and all the wonders of software, the fork can work just as well as the GEM (I know - I will get flamed for this!).

But we have our preferences. The fork is a fine mount!

I love those picts!

#41 nitegeezer

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 12:40 AM

I am getting very excited to see what I can do this summer. I have dabbled in ap enough to get my feet wet but not enough to get anything I am really proud of. I have been helping a friend rebuild his scope this winter and my new camera just arrived a week ago. We are both planning on a major push to see what images we can capture. He has an SN-10 on a GEM and I will be using my 8" LX200 on a super wedge. I was thinking that between the GEM and aperture he was going to blow my doors off, but I am beginning to think it is going to be pretty close. Neither one of us is guiding yet, I want to address that later, but I enjoy learning what is possible step by step.

I would like an observatory someday, but that is quite a ways off if it does happen. The next two things I think I should address are guiding and a permanent pier. Which one of those is most important, or is there something else I should address next??

This is the most excited I have been heading into summer since I bought my scope nine years ago. This thread has given me some great information and I thank you much.

#42 ldesign1

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 02:14 AM

If you plan to bring your scope in and out, I don't see a huge advantage to having a "permanent" pier. I will only serve to help repeat your set-up if you left a wedge mounted and polar aligned. Otherwise, it's just like a permanent tripod. IMO

Guiding will be useful if you are moving your scope around from place to place. Even if you are not perfectly polar aligned, guiding will help correct some of the tracking errors for AP. Without guiding, you will need to have everything perfectly aligned for error free AP.

If you plan to make a concrete pier, that would be the cheapest way to go. If you plan to buy a steel pier, be prepared to spend some $$$ for something that is suitable for a 12" scope and mount. Plus you will still need to pour some concrete to attach the pier.

#43 nitegeezer

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 10:49 AM

Your points are all spot on. The reason for a concrete pier is exactly what you mention, I could leave the wedge on it and bring the scope inside. I may get faster in the future, but it takes me one night just to get happy with the alignment of my wedge on my tripod. This summer I plan to leave my scope mounted on the wedge for a few days at a time as I don't think I can take it off without slightly moving my tripod and losing the alignment I struggled for. This works great for a couple of days if I can just stay home, but the nearest small town is 30 minutes away and major shopping for supplies is an hour away. I have never had any troubles here, but I still have a hard time leaving my scope out if I need to leave.

Dan: Sorry for the slight hijack of your thread here, but if you stay in the hobby and want to do ap, these comments will probably be useful, and may help you decide on what to get!!

#44 dan_uk

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 05:35 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I ended up sticking with my LX90 12" and i'm quite pleased with my decision.

I will enjoy visuals for at least a year before I'll consider mounting options and when I am ready for AP I am sure i'll figure something out when the time comes!

I got myself some nice eye pieces today to increase the quality of my visual experience, from my understanding I should have covered the focal lengths I require:

13MM
17MM
41MM

Would this cover all my visual needs? I was told anything below a 12MM could not be used in the UK so easily with my 12".
Unfortunately they did not have a 2" adapter in stock so I can't try them out yet!

#45 nitegeezer

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 06:43 PM

I think you will be happy that you stayed with the LX90 as long as you stay portable. The first few nights the adrenaline will keep you going. The setup is not where I have my problems, when I get going I try to make the most of every evening. I frequently start breaking down because it is just too cold to enjoy viewing anymore. That is when I really feel the weight as I have some previous adventures that cause joints fits when they get cold!! With a 12" I think you will be happy with the 90.

I think you got a good selection of EPs, but one thing you might want to consider is a good 2X Barlow. That would really extend the range you have.

I am puzzled by your comment of a 12mm limit as this is only 250X. The scope is capable of going much farther, is the limit due to air quality or light pollution? Granted you don't need to go higher magnification to have great views, my favorite EP is my 30mm, but once in a while it is fun to crank it up a bit and with my 8" I don't hesitate to push 300X.

#46 Bill Barlow

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 07:11 PM

I might add a 24mm TV Panoptic or 24mm ES 68 degree eyepiece to the three you already have. I have the TV 24 Panoptic and it is one of the nicest eyepieces I own. Have fun with your Meade 12. I also own this telescope and it puts up some excellent visual views at the eyepiece.

Bill

#47 dan_uk

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 08:05 PM

Thanks for the tip bill I grabbed a 27mm panoptic which I'm quite pleased with!

I now have 41 + 27 Panoptic, 17 and 13 Ethos and 10 Delos.

I noticed today when viewing the moon I could easily use the 10mm without issue despite the atmospheric conditions. I assume this was mainly because the Moon is far closer then anything else I would look at.

What's the limit with the moon? I was considering one of the Nagler zoom eyepieces, would the 3-6MM be usable on anything but the moon?

is 381x mag usuable on anything else? i'm considering an 8mm.

#48 thesubwaypusher

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 08:24 PM

Sorry if this has been said, but I tend to not read all posts...

The 10" LX200 is said to be the perfect scope in terms of maximum (safe) weight someone can carry, and the difference between the 12 and 10 is really not much. The 12" LX200 is more stable and accurate, but very unsafe (I have one) to move around because of possible injury. I think you inferred that your dealer will take the LX90 back and switch it for you, in which case I would go that route. Because even though it is lighter, it's still bulky and can result in unnecessary injury. And the 10" LX200 is MUCH more stable than that teetering tube you have now. If you try A/P with it, (your LX90) you are going to get very frustrated.

Good luck, Chris

#49 Bill Barlow

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 03:00 PM

400x with the Meade 12" is not out of the question. I would get a wide field 8mm or 7mm eyepiece for these occasions you want high power lunar views.

Bill






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