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Meade Merges with another company

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#26 rmollise

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 11:42 AM

As an observer of Meade products and fortunes over the last 20 or so years, I think it has taken more than just one bad run to bring them down, I think it has been a long term process, probably the result of a company driven by stockholders and the marketing department rather than savvy amateur astronomers. Hopefully that will change with the prospect of Scott Roberts guiding Meade's future.


Very good, interesting post. A couple of quibbles, natch. :lol:

The "ACF scopes" you speak of was the RCX 400 series.

As for commercial Dobs? Not really. Meade was there at the same time, actually even a little before Orion, with their StarFinder Dobs. At any rate, both Orion's original Dobsonians and the StarFinders owe more to Jim Braginton's Red Tube Coulter Odysseys than anything else. To this day, import Dobs follow Jim's basic design--with the good and bad inherent in that. Oh, Orion's original Dobs (the "Explorers" I believe they were called) were not made by GSO but by an American vendor.

Meade? I date the beginning of the decline to about 2006 and the RCX. It was an advance, and I was VERY impressed by the single scope I got to use, the 10-inch at a Cherry Springs Star Party. But it was not _quite_ there. I'm not sure the lawsuit had that huge an effect--if I recall, Meade's opponents were only awarded 1$. What killed the RCX was problems out of the box, especially with the focus/collimation system. ;)

#27 rmollise

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 11:49 AM


I think to be viable, though, they need to cultivate a market for their products in Defense or Homeland Security--something in addition to selling to us amateurs.


I don't think so. Even if a Chinese company could get in on that, they don't need to.

Yes, Meade has fallen in the esteem of amateurs--who always made Meade the bulk of their profits--but even with all the problems, Meade was still able to produce some decent scopes. Like the ACF 10-inch LX200 a buddy of mine bought not long back. Superb instrument. And a lot of amateurs still have a soft place in their hearts for Old Blue. :lol:

All it takes is for good, reasonably priced product to start flowing again and Meade will be on its way back. I believe that if the sale goes through, the steady hands that will be at the helm will see to that. ;)

#28 jgraham

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 11:50 AM

"Meade should never have gone public."

+1

It'll be interesting to see what happens.

I'm just about to finish restoring a 1989-ish 10" f/6.3 LX6. Absolutely wonderful scope. The scope, coatings, mount, and tracking are in great shape. (I fired the tracking up for the first time last night with the scope on its shiny 'new' wedge and field tripod.)

#29 bunyon

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 11:50 AM

Jon and Rod, you guys have almost certainly been better observers of Meade than I. I wasn't aware of several of the events in Jon's posts. I do think, being small companies in a small community, they're especially susceptible to bad news being huge. I'd be glad to know it takes more than a couple of mistakes to kill one.

#30 rdandrea

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 12:23 PM

I don't think so. Even if a Chinese company could get in on that, they don't need to.



It's unclear at this point how the company will be structured. It might be a subsidiary incorporated in the US. And Chinese ownership is apparently no longer a bar to bidding on military contracts. In Feb. 2011 Cirrus Aircraft was sold to a Chinese company. In July 2011, the Air Force Academy ordered 25 Cirrus-built training aircraft.

We'll see how this plays out.

#31 rmollise

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 12:29 PM

I don't think so. Even if a Chinese company could get in on that, they don't need to.



It's unclear at this point how the company will be structured. It might be a subsidiary incorporated in the US. And Chinese ownership is apparently no longer a bar to bidding on military contracts. In Feb. 2011 Cirrus Aircraft was sold to a Chinese company. In July 2011, the Air Force Academy ordered 25 Cirrus-built training aircraft.

We'll see how this plays out.


That may be. Or it may not be. The main thing? I wouldn't want to see them do it. One of the things that got Meade bogged down in the first place IMHO was straying off the astronomy beam too far. ;)

#32 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 01:35 PM

As for commercial Dobs? Not really. Meade was there at the same time, actually even a little before Orion, with their StarFinder Dobs.



I know that Meade was there with the Starfinder Dobs long before Orion ever dreamed of the XT series. Orion was selling sonotube Dobs manufactured by Discovery. Celsetron was selling both Discovery manufactured Dobs and in house dobs.

But my point was this: If you look at the commercial Dobs that are available today, whether it's Skywatcher, Orion, Meade, Apertura, Astro-Tech, Zhumell, they are all direct descendants of the original Orion XT-6/XT-8/XT-10.

Those first Orion metal tube Dobs, the XT-6 and the XT-8, were manufactured by GSO in Taiwan in about 1999. About 2001, the XT-10 came along. Then Orion decided to switch suppliers to Synta and since then, the XT series has been manufactured by Synta/Skywatcher... Skywatcher sells their line of Synta Dobs, Celestron sold them too there for a while.

When Orion switched to Synta, it left GSO in need of vendors to sell their stuff. A variety of smaller vendors filled the gap, Hands on Optics, OPT sold GSO Dobs, Hardin was the US importer for some years. Hardin stopped importing scopes to focus on their main business of high end optics, Zhumell took over, Meade began selling the Lightbridges, Astronomics/Astro-Tech began selling GSO Dobs, Apertura is the most recent importer.

Along the way, various metal tube Dobs have been added, GSO with the 12 inch and 16 inch tube as well as truss models between 8 and 16 inch. Orion has a great variety including the XT-4.5, as well as 12 inch, 14 inch and now a 16 inch GOTO scope.

But all these can be tracked directly back to the original XT-6 and XT-8, the first commercial metal tubed dobs...

Jon

#33 jrcrilly

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 01:50 PM

If this goes through (and it surely will), Meade will be acquired by their primary supplier, who happens to be foreign. Very similar to what happened to Celestron, except that wasn't voluntary.


Meade gets funding and Jinqua (or whatever) gets a marquis-level trademark. Not a bad deal.


Yup. It's not as though they haven't been deeply involved with each other for decades.

#34 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 01:58 PM

Yup. It's not as though they haven't been deeply involved with each other for decades.



:waytogo:

As others have pointed out, the present scenario is nearly identical to Celestron being owned by Synta...

A bit of irony... There was a time when Celestron had a close relationship with Vixen. Then Celestron began having the Vixens cloned by Synta. The final step was when Vixen began selling Synta cloned Vixens as Vixens.

Jon

#35 rmollise

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 02:36 PM

But my point was this: If you look at the commercial Dobs that are available today, whether it's Skywatcher, Orion, Meade, Apertura, Astro-Tech, Zhumell, they are all direct descendants of the original Orion XT-6/XT-8/XT-10.


In a way, I suppose. But all of 'em...the Explorers, the StarFinders, the Celestrons (which came a little later than the Orion and Meade Dobs) really are the descendants of Jim's second wave of Dobbies, the Red Tubes. Meade was selling Dobs before Orion, but not "long" before...really only a few months to a year or so, I believe. The metal tubes were nice, but it really was just a minor change from Coulter's "resists a nearby megaton range thermonuclear explosion" Sonotube dobbies. :dabomb:

#36 rmollise

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 02:39 PM


As others have pointed out, the present scenario is nearly identical to Celestron being owned by Synta...

A bit of irony... There was a time when Celestron had a close relationship with Vixen. Then Celestron began having the Vixens cloned by Synta. The final step was when Vixen began selling Synta cloned Vixens as Vixens.

Jon


Celestron began selling Synta's GP Clones when they wanted, I suppose, something less expensive than the real deal for the Great Polaris C8. Synta had already brought that mount to market and were selling it a fair number of places, I think you'll find... :cool:

#37 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 03:09 PM

The metal tubes were nice, but it really was just a minor change from Coulter's "resists a nearby megaton range thermonuclear explosion" Sonotube dobbies.




Having seen and looked through a number of red tube Coulters, I have to say the changes were more than just minor...

In any event, my point was and is that the current crop of commercial Dobs are essentially just different models of those original XT6's and XT-8's. At the time they arrived on the scene, they represented a serious change in the marketplace and they quickly replaced what had been available before.

In any event, Meade did miss the boat with their Dobs, once the Orion's arrived, the Meade's were in trouble. In today's world of 2 inch two speed GSO Crayfords, it's worth remembering Meade had the gall to charge money for upgrading to a 2 inch Plastic focuser.. I think that was the model 77?

Jon

#38 rmollise

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 03:42 PM


Having seen and looked through a number of red tube Coulters, I have to say the changes were more than just minor...

In any event, my point was and is that the current crop of commercial Dobs are essentially just different models of those original XT6's and XT-8's. At the time they arrived on the scene, they represented a serious change in the marketplace and they quickly replaced what had been available before.

In any event, Meade did miss the boat with their Dobs, once the Orion's arrived, the Meade's were in trouble. In today's world of 2 inch two speed GSO Crayfords, it's worth remembering Meade had the gall to charge money for upgrading to a 2 inch Plastic focuser.. I think that was the model 77?

Jon


Well, sort of...

Meade, and then Orion, and then Orion and its Chinese partners gussied up the original, the Coulter, but that's it. Better spider, somewhat better primary mounts, somewhat better focusers. The results were pretty much the same, though, with most of the Chinese Dobs being no better really. The thing they REALLY needed to upgrade the too-small side bearings was what they didn't do, and still struggle with today with kludges like springs. :lol:

Not long after Orion went Chinese, Meade decided to get out of the Dobsonian business--they really hadn't been pushing them for some time. I believe they, like Celestron, decided that small, cheap Dobs were more trouble than they were worth for them. Orion also gave up on "its" Dobs and began importing GSOs and Syntas, which were, quite frankly not much--if any different from the Dobs those companies were already selling under various brandnames.

Jon, if you want to know who REALLY revolutionized the small Dobsonian, it was good old Meade. They came in when Coulter was still the only game in town other than custom rigs like Sky Designs, and they did everything you want to praise Orion and the Chinese for FIRST. Better focuser. Better finished, attractive tube, better focuser, better primary mount, a real spider. The only thing the Chinese and Orion added MUCH LATER was the metal tubes...but I am not really sure how much of an "advance" that was.

OH, and the 2-inch Meade focuser? Yes, it was lousy. But you've forgotten what Orion was putting on its dobs when the plastic fantastic Meade came out. What Orion was giving you was a cotton picking HELICAL job. :lol:

Howsomeever...other than these things I agree with you 100% as always. :whistle:

#39 GeneT

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 03:55 PM

Regardless of my feeling toward Meade, I think this deal was inevitable and good for the long term prospects of the company.


My thinking exactly.

#40 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 04:16 PM

The thing they REALLY needed to upgrade the too-small side bearings was what they didn't do, and still struggle with today with kludges like springs.



If you do the engineering analysis, the springs have the same effect as larger bearings...

I do remember the 6 and 8 inch Meade's with the iron counterweights that helped keep the mirror warm...

As far as the differences between what Meade was selling and Orion.. I bought an original XT-8... the Meade's of that era were a work in progress, Orion was a reasonably finished product...

It may be that was the only real difference...

Jon

#41 rmollise

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 05:12 PM

If you do the engineering analysis, the springs have the same effect as larger bearings...

I do remember the 6 and 8 inch Meade's with the iron counterweights that helped keep the mirror warm...

As far as the differences between what Meade was selling and Orion.. I bought an original XT-8... the Meade's of that era were a work in progress, Orion was a reasonably finished product...

It may be that was the only real difference...

Jon


Your engineering analysis may show they work as well. My "use" analysis says tain't so, not in a pig's eye. :lol:

I would call the XT, the rest of the current Chinese solid tube dobs, and their ancestors, ALL works in progress. I have never, ever seen one that did not require futzing with. They are somewhat better now, but not worlds better.

The Chinese go-to Dobs are better in a way, since you no longer have to worry about to hard/sticky motions, which are often the bane of these scopes.

OTOH, an humble 8-inch Meade for the price they were charging, much less one of the import dobs? When I was a kid one would have simply blown me away. :cool:

#42 Starhawk

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 05:25 PM

How about the 7" maksutov with an internal iron counterweight to make is balance like a SCT? Or the ETX-90 with a plastic back bucket to hold the optics together, but a heavy metal baffle stuck to the corrector to cause it to creep down the glass?

The truth is, we are where we are. How we got here isn't really all that important compared to deciding where to go tomorrow.

So, instead of the dredging, how about naming what you would like to see come out of Meade 2.0?

-Rich

#43 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 07:57 PM

Your engineering analysis may show they work as well. My "use" analysis says tain't so, not in a pig's eye.



Mine were good enough that stock I used them at 800x within 10 degrees of the Zenith, for splitting doubles, not the best but doable. Since then I have reworked them, they're better, no doubt about it...

In my experience, the important thing is that the bearings are clean and free from embedded debris. When the motion deteriorates, I scrape them clean. Of course this is true of any Dob...

I am wondering, do I need to do a comparison between the Meade Model 77 focuser and the standard GSO 2 speed?

Jon

#44 RobertED

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 06:23 AM

"Can't we all just get along?".....

I go through life with an open mind, and almost always give the other guy the 'benefit of the doubt'...AND YESSSSS!...I get my butt kicked a lot for that!....but I'll tell ya', I got lotsa lotsa friends!

#45 rcdk

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 07:38 AM

This is an awesome time to be an amatuer astronomer. The equipment options are great and there are still some really dark skies out there even if you have to drive a bit to get to them.

But from reading some of the posts here you would think the astro equipment manufacturers require their customers to endure time on a rack as payment.

#46 rmollise

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:01 AM


Mine were good enough that stock I used them at 800x within 10 degrees of the Zenith, for splitting doubles, not the best but doable. Since then I have reworked them, they're better, no doubt about it...

In my experience, the important thing is that the bearings are clean and free from embedded debris. When the motion deteriorates, I scrape them clean. Of course this is true of any Dob...

I am wondering, do I need to do a comparison between the Meade Model 77 focuser and the standard GSO 2 speed?

Jon


Sorry, not my experience. But if that's what you've found, more power to you.

The Meade 77? Why don't you do a shoot out between it and the helical focuser on the Meade Explorer Dob? That's one of its "advances" along with a plate glass mirror. :lol:

Be that as it may, we've drifted away from the original topic. My final words? Meade has produced many good scopes over the last 40-years, and even some great ones. I for one will be happy to have them back.

#47 rmollise

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:06 AM

How about the 7" maksutov with an internal iron counterweight to make is balance like a SCT? Or the ETX-90 with a plastic back bucket to hold the optics together, but a heavy metal baffle stuck to the corrector to cause it to creep down the glass?

The truth is, we are where we are. How we got here isn't really all that important compared to deciding where to go tomorrow.

So, instead of the dredging, how about naming what you would like to see come out of Meade 2.0?

-Rich


"Back bucket..."? You mean the rear cell? Never seemed to be much of a problem, though metal would have certainly looked nicer. The problem with the secondary was not the baffle, but the adhesive Meade used. They fixed that problem a long, long time ago.

And yet, both telescopes were capable of producing exquisite images and certainly have their fans...including here... ;)

#48 Starhawk

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 09:29 AM

That's not my point. Rehashing old tech issues isn't especially useful, now.

What the heck, I'll just start another thread.

-Rich

#49 rmollise

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 10:44 AM

That's not my point. Rehashing old tech issues isn't especially useful, now.

What the heck, I'll just start another thread.

-Rich


Have fun. I obviously have no idea what your point was. Sorry. ;)

#50 belgrade

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 10:57 AM

Meade has died! Long live Meade! ;)






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