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Reflections/Questions Regarding Meade

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#1 WebFoot

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 02:41 PM

I have owned a lot of Meade equipment, including a 10" LX200 (1998-2010); 12" RCX400 (2005-2014); 10" Equatorial Starfinder; ETX90; 102ED and 127ED with LXD650 mount. So I think it's fair to say that I have a lot of experience with their products.

Several things are constant throughout those products: Excellent optics; generally good value (at least until they break); poor customer service; poor electronics; poor focusers; cheap gearing, and generally cutting manufacturing corners whenever they think they can get away with it.

Now, I don't think there's anything evil about keeping costs down, since they're trying to occupy/dominate a particular market segment.

But I think they often take it to absurd extremes. For instance, the native focus knob/mechanism on the 10" LX200 is just horrible; full of slop and resistance. $10 in parts (retail) gets a fix that makes the focuser wonderfully smooth and effective. And why put focusers on a scope (e.g., the Starfinder and the ED refractors) that just don't work; horrible plastic rack-and-pinion focusers that have to be replaced to enjoy the excellent optics.

And the RCX400 is a spectacular example of solving problems in the LX200 line with much greater problems--the horribly over-engineered focus mechanism that breaks regularly, rendering the entire OTA unusable (especially since Meade refuses to support this very expensive product).

I expect that I'm done paying Meade big bucks for stuff that breaks and cannot be fixed for a reasonable amount of money (although I'm happy to have recently purchased an old 10" LX200 OTA). But I'm curious if the newer advanced products have fixed the stupid issues that plagued their previous generations, such as focuser slop in the SCTs; cheap, unusable focusers in the ED refractors; unreliable electronics; plastic gears in mounts. Given my experience with Meade's so-called customer service in the last month or so (both times, they promised to get back to me, and neither time will they either return calls or emails), I won't ask about their customer service these days.

I'm really not trolling; I would love to love Meade, but they've beaten it out of me. I'm just curious if they're getting better.

Thanks.

Mark

#2 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 03:29 PM

Well I will take the bait… ;)

The current "high end" products I have are all pretty impressive.
* The focusing mechanism on my Series 6000 80mm and 130mm ED APOs are metal and not plastic. The quality in both OTAs are very impressive. Using non-technical terms the two speed crayford focusers are solid and I have found no need to replace them at all. The factory in China that is turning out these OTAs are turning out a very impressive optical system.
* The 14" f/8 ACF also has a solid and excellent focuser. No mirror shift what so ever. I have found no need to replace the focuser on it at all.
* LX850 mount - a beast and very well built. It does perform per the specs, and compared to past Meade products seems a bit more serviceable. You may have seen posted my mount has been outdoors for 235 days straight with its only protection being a Telegizmos cover. After +75 days of actual use/observing/imaging it has performed perfectly. No cheap plastic parts on this unit save for the hand controller itself.
* The Coronado 90mm SolarMax II is an amazing unit, but I don't believe their have been many problems with this model.


All my Meade equipment have excellent optics. I would agree optics are not their problem.

I have the entire HD-60 eyepiece set and all but the 20mm UWA eyepieces. Quality is excellent as are the views. Their supplier seems to do a very good job.

LX80 - so much potential. Great concept, but it has its flaws and addresses the market incorrectly.

LXD75 - this has proven to be an amazing mount for me. Meade made a huge blunder discontinuing this mount.

10" LX200 - My first Meade SCT one of the early ones made (yes it is over 22 years old). Excellent optics and so so focuser. The unit still works perfectly.

ETX125 - the "poor man's" Questar. EXCELLENT optics, wayyyyyy too much plastic, but that is how you keep it cheap.


In summary I am very impressed with all my new high end items: 130mm and 80mm ED APOs, 14" f/8 ACF and LX850 mount, and the Coronado 90mm SM II. Excellent designs, excellent products.

Comment #1: Burnt out motors…though I have never experienced this, this event seems very common amongst Meade, Celestron and iOptron products. Why? Is it user abuse? Poor manufacturing? Poor design? Any or all of these?

Comment #2: I am surprised you are experiencing problems with customer service. I have not had a problem w.r.t. my current products. Older products - I have no illusion of Meade servicing them. BUT you raise an interesting point. IF Meade (and Celestron and whoever) sell a high end product, they will really need to consider lifetime serviceability, ease of serviceability and at least 10 years of support or some combination there of. AP, 10Micron and Software Bisque fully service what they sell and I believe for years afterwards, however they are in a different price league. I think the Meade APOs and the LX850 are a very big step in the right direction.

#3 SteveRosenow

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 03:47 PM

I have heard rumors of a major turnaround @ Meade and from the inklings I have read about, the customer service issues seem to be in the process of being taken care of.

I wouldn't count Meade out, not by a wide margin.

#4 WebFoot

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 04:31 PM

Thanks for your very helpful response. It is good to hear that Meade may be doing things better on their expensive products.

Comment #2: I am surprised you are experiencing problems with customer service. I have not had a problem w.r.t. my current products. Older products - I have no illusion of Meade servicing them. BUT you raise an interesting point. IF Meade (and Celestron and whoever) sell a high end product, they will really need to consider lifetime serviceability, ease of serviceability and at least 10 years of support or some combination there of. AP, 10Micron and Software Bisque fully service what they sell and I believe for years afterwards, however they are in a different price league. I think the Meade APOs and the LX850 are a very big step in the right direction.

My first unsatisfactory interaction with Meade "support" (about a month ago) came when my 12" RCX400 died. I paid $6000 for this, brand new, and I find it reprehensible that their official reaction is "tough." As long as they refuse to support their expensive products, I'll never be buying another one.

The second unsatisfactory experience was a week ago, when I called asking if I I could get a dovetail base for a standard Meade finder bracket. The guy wasn't interested in helping; had no idea what I was talking about, and didn't live up to his promise to call me back after inquiring among his colleagues.

To me, the value proposition (which is what always made Meade attractive to me) isn't there, as long as I have to beg for proper after-sale support on very expensive products.

#5 nitegeezer

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 05:04 PM

Unfortunately, this is what happens with a world economy. I have seen it from the inside of a highly respected company. One of the advantages of having CN is that there are usually members who can help with failures. Rather than pick on Meade why not describe the problems you are having with your scope and see what happens. There is also a yahoo group that has a lot of information although I rarely go out there. I think you will find with many companies that as soon as it is determined that the warranty cost of failures is less that the engineering cost to eliminate them, the engineering stops.

#6 WebFoot

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 07:45 PM

Unfortunately, this is what happens with a world economy. I have seen it from the inside of a highly respected company. One of the advantages of having CN is that there are usually members who can help with failures. Rather than pick on Meade why not describe the problems you are having with your scope and see what happens. There is also a yahoo group that has a lot of information although I rarely go out there. I think you will find with many companies that as soon as it is determined that the warranty cost of failures is less that the engineering cost to eliminate them, the engineering stops.

Believe me, I am aware of the resources out there. And there's really nothing cost-effective that can be done for a dead RCX400. It would cost a lot of money to get the focus motors replaced with bolts, more or less as much as the scope would be worth when I got it back. And then the main board in a 9-year old Meade RCX400 is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode. When it does, there's no fixing it.

I understand that Meade is not unique; it just happens that this is a Meade subforum, and my most recent significant issues are with Meade. I'm pretty sure that, if my Paramount ME mount died, I could send it to Bisque for repair. But Meade orphans their products very quickly. Especially the RCX400, about which they were sued for their stupid marketing.

#7 SteveRosenow

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 08:42 PM

I can understand why Meade would've orphaned the RCX400. The reasons are probably partly due to that lawsuit and partly due to the engineering flaws. Somewhere along the line they probably discovered that the cost to remedy the situation outweighed any financial benefit to the company - which would result in a net loss for Meade in the end. Insomuch as I hate to say it, in this instance, it was a wise move by Meade.

Years ago, Meade had a policy in effect that stated they would repair or replace any telescope they built. This included the LX3, LX5 and LX6, and this policy stood in effect even when Meade began selling the original ETX-90 in the 1990s.

However, with technology advancing so fast in today's world, it makes no sense coming from a 'planned obsolescence' standpoint to offer a lifetime repair policy when PCB components even for the older LX200s are becoming scarce. I think that is why Meade has tended to orphan their products - and technically speaking it's not just with Meade - I've experienced it with other companies as well - especially the automotive industry. At some point as a company, you have to take the consideration that keeping older products alive via parts repair or replacement, is not financially as sound a move as it would be to market a brand new telescope with new features. The same is true in the school bus industry (for which I was a longtime insider). In that industry, for much of the 1940s, through to the early 1980s it was not uncommon to see school buses serve 25-30 years before they were retired. For that very reason four school bus manufacturers no longer exist in this country. Why? They built products so durable and built them on low-cost serviceability, that those factors alone drove them out of business.

In this situation, Meade and other companies that orphan their products, are caught in a Catch-22. Of course we as a buying public would like to buy something that lasted. I myself am one of them. I hated the fact that Ford abandoned the 2nd generation Taurus SHO less than five years after the last one rolled off the line - and found that out when I owned one six years ago and had an idler pulley fail - no parts were to be found!

However, from a company's bottom line standpoint, parts and repair are not the bread and butter - it's the sales of new wares and the sales of extended warranties on those wares, is where the money is - and I think that is why Meade and other companies like it, are soon abandoning their products after they've built them.

I also have to take issue with the claims that the focuser in the 10" LX200 is a bad focuser. YMMV of course, but the Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain optical tube assembly's primary design and mechanics have not changed in over 25 years. I own a 10" LX200 myself, whose OTA was once mounted to an LX6 base. The focusing mechanism is the exact same as the ones used in LX200s built even recently, and in mine I have had no issue and my focuser is the original focuser. My LX5/2080 has the same focusing mechanism - and the OTA was originally on an LX3 fork mount from 1984 (which bears the dreaded MULTI-COATED SILVERED OPTICS GROUP label). That focuser also works perfectly fine. I have also toyed around with other 10" and 12" LX200s (even a GPS model) and found a smooth, well-tuned focuser.

I have also owned a few Meade refractors and the last one I owned that was not of the ETX or DS20XX persuasion, had an all-metal focusing mechanism that operated quite smoothly. In fact I almost bought an LXD75 mount that sported quite a hefty Meade AR-6AT refractor out of a camera store almost six years ago. It had a quite-beefy metal rack-and-pinion focuser that was stamped with a Meade decal. And the last four Meade purchase I've made in which the product was bought new, I had no issues. Both ETX-80s I've purchased were fairly stout units, as was an ETX-70 and a Meade DS2090.

I understand that Meade has had some hiccups (and will likely continue to do so - as will any company) but we cannot expect absolute perfection when all we can do is perpetually bash a company. I also think that it's somewhat foolish to expect Astro-Physics or Takahashi quality out of a company whose market is more broad, and whose clientele base has less deeper pockets.

I have also worked in retail. You are going to get an associate or customer service rep who has had a bad day for whatever circumstance unknown, and sometimes one or two of those will end up taking their frustration out on the customer. That doesn't excuse the action itself, but it doesn't mean that the company is bad.

And for some people, Meade has worked exceptionally well. If it weren't for the fact that throughout the years I've suffered financial setbacks (and a theft of one ETX-80 and an ETX-70), I would still own every single Meade I've ever purchased.

I will always purchase Meade, nothing else. For one, I can't stand the look of Celestron's fork mounts, and to me, blue is a much better color on a telescope's OTA vs. black, orange or gray. ;)

I will be one of those guys who continues to stand by Meade.

#8 WebFoot

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 11:12 PM

I can understand why Meade would've orphaned the RCX400. The reasons are probably partly due to that lawsuit and partly due to the engineering flaws. Somewhere along the line they probably discovered that the cost to remedy the situation outweighed any financial benefit to the company - which would result in a net loss for Meade in the end. Insomuch as I hate to say it, in this instance, it was a wise move by Meade.

I have no difficulty understanding why they orphaned the RCX400. But they effectively alienated a lot of loyal Meade customers. Why would I ever buy another product from them, after they turned and ran from their own engineering incompetence? Easy; I won't.

Years ago, Meade had a policy in effect that stated they would repair or replace any telescope they built. This included the LX3, LX5 and LX6, and this policy stood in effect even when Meade began selling the original ETX-90 in the 1990s.

However, with technology advancing so fast in today's world, it makes no sense coming from a 'planned obsolescence' standpoint to offer a lifetime repair policy when PCB components even for the older LX200s are becoming scarce. I think that is why Meade has tended to orphan their products - and technically speaking it's not just with Meade - I've experienced it with other companies as well - especially the automotive industry. At some point as a company, you have to take the consideration that keeping older products alive via parts repair or replacement, is not financially as sound a move as it would be to market a brand new telescope with new features. The same is true in the school bus industry (for which I was a longtime insider). In that industry, for much of the 1940s, through to the early 1980s it was not uncommon to see school buses serve 25-30 years before they were retired. For that very reason four school bus manufacturers no longer exist in this country. Why? They built products so durable and built them on low-cost serviceability, that those factors alone drove them out of business.

In this situation, Meade and other companies that orphan their products, are caught in a Catch-22. Of course we as a buying public would like to buy something that lasted. I myself am one of them. I hated the fact that Ford abandoned the 2nd generation Taurus SHO less than five years after the last one rolled off the line - and found that out when I owned one six years ago and had an idler pulley fail - no parts were to be found!

However, from a company's bottom line standpoint, parts and repair are not the bread and butter - it's the sales of new wares and the sales of extended warranties on those wares, is where the money is - and I think that is why Meade and other companies like it, are soon abandoning their products after they've built them.

I don't expect a quality company to support all of their products forever. But Meade set a new standard in cutting its RCX400 owners loose; only three or four years, and we're on our own. And that was their flagship product. A company shows its stripes with a move like that. And I'll never buy another Meade product that includes any technology.

I also have to take issue with the claims that the focuser in the 10" LX200 is a bad focuser. YMMV of course, but the Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain optical tube assembly's primary design and mechanics have not changed in over 25 years. I own a 10" LX200 myself, whose OTA was once mounted to an LX6 base. The focusing mechanism is the exact same as the ones used in LX200s built even recently, and in mine I have had no issue and my focuser is the original focuser. My LX5/2080 has the same focusing mechanism - and the OTA was originally on an LX3 fork mount from 1984 (which bears the dreaded MULTI-COATED SILVERED OPTICS GROUP label). That focuser also works perfectly fine. I have also toyed around with other 10" and 12" LX200s (even a GPS model) and found a smooth, well-tuned focuser.

I have had two 10" LX200s and both had sloppy, stubborn focus knobs. A Peterson Engineering EZ Focus, with $10 (retail price) of simple products, turns it into a very good focuser. That product wouldn't have been on the market for well over a decade if the focuser didn't suck. I think that's just shoddy workmanship by Meade. YMMV, apparently

I have also owned a few Meade refractors and the last one I owned that was not of the ETX or DS20XX persuasion, had an all-metal focusing mechanism that operated quite smoothly. In fact I almost bought an LXD75 mount that sported quite a hefty Meade AR-6AT refractor out of a camera store almost six years ago. It had a quite-beefy metal rack-and-pinion focuser that was stamped with a Meade decal. And the last four Meade purchase I've made in which the product was bought new, I had no issues. Both ETX-80s I've purchased were fairly stout units, as was an ETX-70 and a Meade DS2090.

Both my 102ED and my 127ED had, stock, horrible focusers that bound quickly; essentially unusable. That also was a generally-experienced problem with that line of scopes. Perhaps you and I have different ideas as to what's acceptable in a product marketed as an advanced, premier product. I expect things to work.

I understand that Meade has had some hiccups (and will likely continue to do so - as will any company) but we cannot expect absolute perfection when all we can do is perpetually bash a company. I also think that it's somewhat foolish to expect Astro-Physics or Takahashi quality out of a company whose market is more broad, and whose clientele base has less deeper pockets.

I spent well over a decade defending Meade, quite publicly. I enjoyed imaging with my LX200 and my RCX400. But the debacle that was the RCX400, followed by Meade screwing its user-base, permanently changed my mind. Fool me once, shame on you; they won't get a chance to fool me twice. I hope they change their stripes, but it will be up to others to find out.

I have also worked in retail. You are going to get an associate or customer service rep who has had a bad day for whatever circumstance unknown, and sometimes one or two of those will end up taking their frustration out on the customer. That doesn't excuse the action itself, but it doesn't mean that the company is bad.

No, but two in a row is more than coincidence. On top of their reprehensible behavior with the RCX400, and they're out, AFAIC.

And for some people, Meade has worked exceptionally well. If it weren't for the fact that throughout the years I've suffered financial setbacks (and a theft of one ETX-80 and an ETX-70), I would still own every single Meade I've ever purchased.

I will always purchase Meade, nothing else. For one, I can't stand the look of Celestron's fork mounts, and to me, blue is a much better color on a telescope's OTA vs. black, orange or gray. ;)

I will be one of those guys who continues to stand by Meade.

Good for you. I will be one of those guys who realized he's been screwed, and run for the hills. :)

#9 SteveRosenow

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 12:55 AM

I hate to say it, but the RCX400 has not, nor ever was, Meade's flagship product. Those claims are quite far fetched.

Since 1992, the flagship product by Meade has always been the LX200, which is also Meade's top-selling line of telescopes.

#10 DaveG

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 09:37 AM

I will chime in here. I purchased a 8" LX90 ACF from Skies Unlimited the first week of June. The GPS did not function, and the declination lock knob also did not work correctly. I sent the telescope back to Meade and had to deal with the absolutely horrendous customer service for over a month. Nothing but constant excuses of "our systems are down", "we don't have any information on your telescope, we'll call you back". This went on for over a month.

After finally getting tired of the customer service nightmare, I went to Skies Unlimited and explained the situation. They immediately got in touch with someone at Meade and was able to bypass the folks I was stuck talking to and had a new telescope shipped.

I received the replacement with a couple issues. There are minor defects along the outside edge of the primary mirror, there is a spacer between the secondary holder and the corrector that was not properly placed and is actually in the light path. I'm not sending this back because honestly, I don't believe Meade could send another replacement that wouldn't be free of some type of defect.

Unless something drastically changes internally, this will be my last Meade purchase as the Synta products I've purchased (Skywatcher, Orion and Celestron) have all optically, and mechanically been excellent. Sunny has their hands full, regardless of what certain people say.

#11 WebFoot

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 10:40 AM

I hate to say it, but the RCX400 has not, nor ever was, Meade's flagship product. Those claims are quite far fetched.

Since 1992, the flagship product by Meade has always been the LX200, which is also Meade's top-selling line of telescopes.

I don't know why you're being so argumentative. The RCX400 was above any LX200 (and any other product) in their line, in price, and it was explicitly designed and marketed as the scope that solved all the problems of the LX200. It was their highest-end product line. That pretty much defines "flagship product." A company's "flagship product" rarely is their top-seller.

Since you're inclined to argue with whatever I say, perhaps you'll buy this from "Sky & Telescope": "Meade's new flagship line of RCX400 telescopes was the brainchild of longtime company president and chief executive officer Steven G. Murdock, who has announced his retirement." - See more at: http://www.skyandtel...-retirement/...

Meade sold a very expensive, very poorly engineered/built product, to its best and most enthusiastic customers (of which I was one). Then, in very few years, they abandoned that customer base to their fate, refusing to service the scopes. Even Ford serviced the horrible Pinto (the object of a hugely expensive and embarrassing lawsuit) for many, many years after they quit selling it. If Meade were a quality company, Meade would have absorbed the cost of their mistake, not forced their best and most enthusiastic customers to do so.

#12 SteveRosenow

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 05:33 AM

You are making an apples to oranges comparison with regards to the Pinto.

And, you are waaay off base on it. For one, I am a Ford historian and I've owned Fords all my life.

1.) The Pinto problems that surfaced were the result of improper fuel tank design and placement that affected only the first third of the entire production run.

2.) Ford discovered the problem not long into the production run of the Pinto - and after the first few fuel tank fires.

3.) Due to number 2, Ford designed and developed a fix, and ultimately recalled the Pinto amidst a wave of lawsuits in 1978.

4.) The Pinto continued its production run into the early 1980s, with the six remaining model years practically surviving unscathed.

5.) A study done in 1991 titled "The Myth of the Ford Pinto Case", for the Rutgers Law Review, written by Gary T. Schwartz revealed that the number who died in Pinto rear-impact fires was well below the hundreds cited in contemporary news reports and closer to the 27 recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database. Given the Pinto's production figures (over 3 million), this was not substantially worse than typical for the time. In his research, Schwartz said that the car was no more fire-prone than other cars of the time, that its fatality rates were lower than comparably sized imported automobiles, and that the supposed "smoking gun" document that plaintiffs said demonstrated Ford's callousness in designing the Pinto was actually a document based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations about the value of a human life — rather than a document containing an assessment of Ford's potential tort liability.

6.) Yes, Ford continued to service the Pinto for years afterwards. Why? because most of the Pinto's mechanicals was also used in other Ford vehicles. For instance the suspension components were also used in the Mustang II and in the Ford Granada, and the engines were used in several of Fords compact and mid-sized vehicles at the time.

How does this relate to Meade's handling of the RCX400?

Simple.

1.) Ford was not forced to cease and desist selling of the Pinto nor were they forced to stop marketing it, and in fact the Pinto lived on for another two and a half years after the recall before being replaced by the Ford Escort in 1981.

2.) Ford's continued servicing of the Pinto for years afterwards was strictly due to the fact that the Pinto's running gear and mechanical components was also used in other Ford vehicles - and partly due to commonplace automotive industry practices that are for the most part still commonplace today.

2.) Meade on the other hand, due to their decision to market them as 'Advanced Ritchey-Cretien', earned Meade a cease-and-desist order in a settlement that effectively banned Meade from selling them under the RCX400 name. Due to that factor alone, Meade was under no further legal obligation to provide service to them. And, if Meade were to have continued servicing them, that could have opened Meade up to further litigation.

And has already been pointed out by 'nitegeezer', Meade also likely discovered through a presumably lengthy cost-benefit analysis, that it would essentially be cheaper as a company to end support of the product and orphan the entire product line, as opposed to addressing the issue with newly-engineered replacement components. I would rightly speculate that if Meade hadn't orphaned the RCX400, the cost of repairs (and labor costs to complete those repairs) alone would have far outweighed the value of the scope itself and would have likely bankrupted Meade - meaning that the company as we know it would likely have ceased operations, which would have then furthermore likely put about 200 workers out of a job. That alone, is not economically favorable!

Why am I so uptight about this?

Because I also think it's a little foolish to expect $50K value in a scope that sold for less than a third of that and was marketed to fill a gap between $8k-$10K+ GEM mounts and $15K-$20K RC optical tubes or high-end refractors. If people wanted Takahashi or RCOS or Star Optics quality, then they should fork out the extra dough. And for whatever its worth, there are some owners of RCX400s that to this day have never had problems with them!

I find it very hard to believe that every single RCX400 built was a lemon. I also find it very hard to believe, given the sheer amount of people STILL USING the LX200 for that matter (even as-built), that every single LX200 ever built was also likewise a lemon. A friend of mine owns and uses a 12" LX200 Classic in his observatory over in Covington as a dedicated imaging platform - in its as-built configuration - and to this day has not had a problem. And I find it very hard to believe that every single telescope ever built by Meade is a lemon, and I'd be willing to bet dimes to donuts that the vast majority of those who've had negative experiences constitute a vocal minority compared to the actual number of Meade owners out there. And I know several people with the same OTAs you describe, that have not had a single bit of issue with theirs.

I also think it's foolish to abandon a brand just because of a poor experience due to one product line or two negative phone call experiences. Perhaps that's because I have something that largely doesn't exist anymore - something called brand loyalty, and the only two problems I have had with Meade were solved by a quick call to Bill Vorce @ Telescope Warehouse and the wonderful resource we have called The Internet.

And to be frankly honest - five months ago I ended up getting a friend of mine hooked on astronomy because I post a lot of deep sky work that I've taken with my LX200 Classic (and previous to that, my 1987-vintage LX5/2080 which still works as new, mind you, plus the LX6 Premiere which I've now retired), on my own personal Facebook page as well as the Facebook page for my photography business.

She asked me what telescope I would recommend - something as a beginner - so what did I do? I recommended she buy a Meade ETX-80. The exact same telescope that got me hooked on this AP hobby (I started my AP hobby with a Meade ETX-80 and a 35MM SLR), is what I recommend she get.

So far, she has been extremely happy with the one she purchased.

I also think it's a little foolish to consider two calls to a company a harbinger of bad tidings within a company. I'm sorry, two calls more than a coincidence? Give me a break. I worked retail and in customer service for over 10 years and I currently own my own business. It will inevitably happen in ANY business - big or small. Meade is by no means exempt.

Meade outsells Celestron by over 2:1 and is still the world's largest manufacturer of telescopes for the mass market amateur astronomer, and I think given the fact that most of the stuff coming out of Meade in the last six months has been so far very well built, plus their current CEO actively working to fix things - should send a message to me that "Hey, I'll give them a try again"...

And for me, personally, there's not a telescope out there that has the aesthetic appeal of a Meade fork-mounted SCT.
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#13 WebFoot

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 09:06 AM

Steve, we'll have to agree to disagree on this. Meade screwed all owners of RCX400 scopes that died (a huge percentage of them; else why did Meade cut and run rather than properly support their customer base?).

The LX200 Classic was a fabulous product. But they cut corners in stupid ways, forcing people who want(ed) their expensive scopes to perform to their full potential to do all sorts of small surgeries on them (mirror lock; EZ Focus; Buck's Gears, etc., etc., etc.). And that's not to mention the failing capacitor in the main board that renders the mount useless.

Meade has conclusively demonstrated some combination of unwillingness and inability to properly support their customer base. Combine that with a tendency to cut corners, and you have a company not worth supporting.

"Support" is a two-way street. I've been screwed by Meade; they don't get any more of my business.

YMMV, apparently. And that's fine.

Oh, and your history of Ford is through rose-colored glasses. I'm a lawyer, and I've read all about the Pinto lawsuit. Ford was well aware of the exploding gas-tank problem, and made the callous calculation that continuing to cut a $6/car corner would cost them less in legal damages than the fix would cost, so they kept building dangerous cars, knowing people would die. The punitive damage award was just for that--$6 per faulty Pinto they produced.

Very similar behavior to Meade, actually, in cutting oorners, to the detriment of their user-base, to save a nickel, except Ford didn't set their Pinto owners adrift like Meade with their RCX400 owners. And, of course, the Pinto was hardly the flagship product of the Ford Motor Company, as the RCX400 was for Meade.

#14 herrointment

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Posted 26 July 2014 - 07:56 AM

Read through the titles of the threads in this forum. Three or four random pages.

Any Questions?

Archie Campbell played the role of a doctor on "Hee Haw". Nurse Goodbody would bring in the patient who would complain that it hurts whenever I do this. "Doc" Campbell would smack the patient upside the head and say,"Don't do that".

Sage advice!

#15 ken svp120

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 08:28 AM

This thread is pretty typical of many past Meade threads. There are the ardent supporters that will pardon all the shortcomings of the company and continue to support them no matter what, and there are those who look at the negatives and condemn the company.

I fell into the second camp. I formed my opinion not based on any one specific instance but on a collection of varying issues such as...

1) Hit or miss customer service
2) Lack of information from company about specifics of new product line (reference the Series 6000 refractors)
3) Hype of a product that did not come to market (Series 6000 refractors)
4) False advertising as adjudicated in a court of law (RCX)
and,
5) Review of their financials over a period of several years.

Adding all this up it was crystal clear that this company was in a nose-dive. They were burning through cash, throwing product out to market that had known problems - if they got it to market at all, and had legal issues to address while having all this fun.

All of this is not to say that the company never put out a good product - they did. However, problems became more and more frequent rather than less and less frequent - bad sign! And my suspicions were proven correct when the company - finally out of cash was faced with closing their doors altogether. Fortunately for the thousands of people who still have Meade gear, a buyer was found in China.

Where I stand now is in a wait and see kind of position. It sounds like the new Meade is still selling scopes and is still servicing scopes. However, where they are headed is anyone's guess. So until we have a few years of the new Meade behind us so we can objectively say how things are going, I will not be endorsing the new company. I will not be beating on them either. I have no evidence yet to support either position. However, I think there are those that will continue to see the new Meade through rose colored glasses and those that will be equally quick to condemn them on the first bad experience - probably due to the bad taste left in their mouth from the old Meade.

To the die-hard supporters I would say history has proven the company was a loser - it was out of money, about to close the doors, and was narrowly saved by being fortunate enough to have a foreign company purchase them. To the die-hard opponents I would say - hey, its a new outfit and as such their may be a few bumps in getting things going. Let's give it a couple years and see what happens. That will be enough time to have enough new product out there and enough customer support experiences to then start forming a more objective view of the new outfit.

Hopefully the new owners in China are of the mood that they want to make Meade the best producer of telescopes and related equipment that we've ever seen and they intend to be at it for the long-term, taking care of their customers along the way in the best possible fashion. This would indeed be a formula for success and reason for optimism.

Time holds the answer to whether or not this is the case.

#16 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 11:02 AM




2) Lack of information from company about specifics of new product line (reference the Series 6000 refractors)
3) Hype of a product that did not come to market (Series 6000 refractors)

...


ken svp120,

I am baffled by two of your items listed regarding the Series 6000 refractors. Specifics are definitely out there regarding the Series 6000 ED APOs and the product did indeed come out to market. Heck, they were on sale last spring!

I purchased the 80mm ED APO in June. I was stunned with the amazing views, the quality of the build and all the features. The focuser is solid and handles my camera gear without a problem. I was so impressed with the 80mm ED APO I went and purchased the series 6000 130mm ED APO. This is unit is a winner.

The 6000 130mm ED APO is traveling on the road with me right now, and just finished up 2 days of heavy use at Oregon Observatory (wonderful place FYI!) at Sunriver, Oregon. About 450 folks looked through it including "professionals". The general consensus was it had the best views of Saturn. Of course it had a huge cool down advantage compared to the Dobs and SCTs.

So to the folks out there - the Series 6000 does exist, it is an EXCELLENT refractor, and their specs out there regarding the OTA. Those who have questions about it feel free to send me a note. Those who want to see it action - you can visit it next week in Logan, Utah, or visit the unit in New Mexico and Holland, Michigan.

Oh, my LX850 has worked flawlessly in its first run of heavy use; 75 days of use/observing and 237 days outdoors. it is the real deal.

#17 ken svp120

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 11:53 AM

With respect to my first point, they did not indicate any specific information on how well these scopes would be corrected. Not in their advertising, nor in response to communications by myself and a few other guys in local clubs. Not only did they not provide any information, they flat out did not reply at all! That's poor form in my book. The least you can do is a take a second and say "sorry, we do not provide that information. thanks for your inquiry."

As to my other point, I should have been more precise in the wording and added "in any significant numbers and in a timely manner."

The advertising campaign for these scopes went on for well over a year and ZERO were available during that time. I do know that after that there a few reports coming out of Europe about them, I'm assuming Bresser released some as they were the one's who purchased Meade Europe but I do not know that as a fact. I also know that yes, there have been SOME available NOW in the US and it seems those are mostly the 80's. But from personal experience, I contacted OPT last year to inquire about a 130 they were listing and they said it was actually order only and they could not be any more specific about delivery time than 3 - 6 months. These 6000's were not available during or near the time of the original 1yr+ advertising campaign. That was my point. If you are going to go on an advertising promotion of your new product, you should make that product available in fairly short order. That was not the case.

But again, this is all water under the bridge - this and other similar bad practices did in fact lead to the failure of the original company. I'm glad you're enjoying your new refractors and when I get a few more minutes maybe I'll knock around on line and see who has these in stock ready to ship. Hopefully the new company will prove more capable than the last!

#18 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:19 PM

@ken svp120

Well first off, most of the Astro manufacturers seem to post products ahead of their scheduled release date and/or release beta products. Some seem to wait years for a product. This seems to be a problem in this industry and not exclusive to Meade. I do find it a hoot other manufacturers are given leeway by the user community on this, but Meade is not.

Yes, Meade sales should have said they cannot give out how well the optics are corrected on the Series 6000. I did see though these refractors were the same as Altair Astro in Europe and were getting excellent reviews and had excellent specs. I have had a chance to look through other high end refractors and I can tell you the Series 6000 is the real deal. I simply could not tell the difference between a >$5000 refractor and the Meade ED APO in both the 130mm class and the 80mm class. Whatever plant in China is pumping these out, they are doing a great job. BTW you will find the same results with the ES127mm and the Orion variance of the ED APO. Bottom line - I think we are hitting a revolution in price/performance in APO refractors.

BTW, I did not contact OPT last year, but I did contact Woodland Hills early last summer about the 130mm ED APO and they did have them - immediately. Did you shop around to other retailers? I also saw someone did receive the 130mm ED APO I believe in January 2013.

There were a range of reasons that led to the failure of the "public" version of Meade; much of this has been debated over and over and over ad nauseam. Still, I am pleased to see them still in business. It seems I have also been extremely lucky with all their products - I have had success working with Meade products since 1976. Heck I still use the same T-Adapter and Orthoscopic eyepiece from 1976! I have no problems recommending purchasing their products. We are certainly proposing their systems for purchase for contracts we have.

It is too bad you have bad vibes exclusively with Meade products. But like I said the level of tolerance of various manufacturers varies. I have been following the ZEQ25 and CEM60 from iOptron - I see many problems and issues there, however folks seem to forgive them warts, problems and all. To me those mounts are non-starters big time. But they are iOptron, and folks are in love with them and forgive all the problems with them. If a used LXD75 is not available I would recommend an AVX over the ZEQ any day. (BTW, Meade flubbed up big time abandoning the LXD75, but that is another story.)

#19 ken svp120

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 02:14 PM

I do agree with one thing you mentioned - we are seemingly at a great place as far as price/performance goes.

But I do need to ask that you refrain from further false statements. My "bad vibes" are not exclusive to Meade. I have pointed out other disappointments with regard to other brands and other equipment. Please keep your statements factual...

#20 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 02:35 PM

I don't think false statements were made. I was commenting how generically on CN many folks seem to forgive other manufacturers foibles and VERY early announcements of products (note I said "user community").

Still, did you shop around outside of OPT for a Series 6000 ED APO?

Here is the rig I used (130mm ED APO) at Oregon Observatory last week sporting the 24mm UWA eyepiece and LXD75 mount. I think I will need to clean the lens on my eyepieces (lots of fingers touched them…).

Attached Files


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#21 WebFoot

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 03:22 PM

Still, I am pleased to see them still in business.

I certainly agree with this statement. The more credible competitors there are, the better off consumers are. I'm very much skeptical that the "new" Meade is for real; given my interactions with their customer support folks in the last month, I have reason for that feeling. IMO, any company is only as good as their behavior when something goes wrong.

But like I said the level of tolerance of various manufacturers varies. I have been following the ZEQ25 and CEM60 from iOptron - I see many problems and issues there, however folks seem to forgive them warts, problems and all. To me those mounts are non-starters big time. But they are iOptron, and folks are in love with them and forgive all the problems with them.

Speaking only for myself, I'm not at all sold on my iOptron mount. If it can't be made good soon, I'll return it. But, in the meantime, I am very impressed with the responsiveness and helpfulness of their customer support. If Meade had that level, and quality, of support, I might not be so disgusted with them.
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#22 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 05:13 PM

Still, I am pleased to see them still in business.

I certainly agree with this statement. The more credible competitors there are, the better off consumers are. I'm very much skeptical that the "new" Meade is for real; given my interactions with their customer support folks in the last month, I have reason for that feeling. IMO, any company is only as good as their behavior when something goes wrong.

But like I said the level of tolerance of various manufacturers varies. I have been following the ZEQ25 and CEM60 from iOptron - I see many problems and issues there, however folks seem to forgive them warts, problems and all. To me those mounts are non-starters big time. But they are iOptron, and folks are in love with them and forgive all the problems with them.

Speaking only for myself, I'm not at all sold on my iOptron mount. If it can't be made good soon, I'll return it. But, in the meantime, I am very impressed with the responsiveness and helpfulness of their customer support. If Meade had that level, and quality, of support, I might not be so disgusted with them.


Yeah, I am trying to figure out the bad support issues you are experiencing on your end. My immediate take is the person who works in customer support is not an expert with the equipment or versed in its use in the field. His role is merely to support warranty issues on current and covered equipment.

To really do it right, they need to provide a link with their engineers some how (forums, etc) which Celestron does and that is good, and/or they have to be very connected with the community to support outreach and such. Maybe have their field gurus provide support in exchange for equipment.

There has been some subtle improvements at Meade such as access to parts which wasn't there before. I am aware there was some staff turnover at Meade, so technical changes will be slow initially.

Still, it is weird I get very prompt and helpful responses from Meade and others do not. Heck one time I had a conference call between the vendor, Meade customer support and myself within moments of an issue I had (turns out I messed up on something, but they were very helpful). I have had nothing but great service and support with Meade. Did I do anything special? Nothing except purchase their products. And I do not work for Meade.

Regarding iOptron, I was in on the waiting list for the first batch of CEM60 EC models. I followed the very public beta testing quite closely. When it was announced the mounts were available I was shocked, because to me the beta testing showed it was not ready yet for delivery. So when my early offer to purchase came up I turned it down. I am glad I did as it has a ways to go in my opinion. Customer support looks to be very good at iOptron, and that is fine, but if the product has issues I still will not buy it. So far, from what I have been reading, I am not impressed with their product offering.

For now I am very impressed with how my LXD75 is working out and how well it supports my 130mm ED APO. I am tempted to test an AVX though just to be able to speak about it and see if it really works - it seems to be the best in class for the price range on the "new" front.

One thing about Meade being in business - I noticed Celestron dropped its prices on its CGE Pro mounts when the LX850 mount was released and the prices have been kept down ever since.

#23 labmand

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 05:17 PM

I have had some bad Meade stuff, but mostly I like
most of my Meade gear, I love my lxd75 and there is
alot to like about my autostar, can't say much about
the latest gear myself but hoping to hear reports from
others that are not already biased because of a bad
experience.

#24 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 05:31 PM

I have had some bad Meade stuff, but mostly I like
most of my Meade gear, I love my lxd75 and there is
alot to like about my autostar, can't say much about
the latest gear myself but hoping to hear reports from
others that are not already biased because of a bad
experience.


Dave, where in West Michigan are you? I am part time in the Holland area.

I 100% agree about autostar and the LXD75.

So far all my new high end stuff has worked out very well:
* Series 6000 ED APO (130mm and 80mm)
* 14" f/8 ACF LX850 - amazing unit!
* SolarMax II (90mm)

And I have collected all of the HD-60 and most of the UWA eyepieces. All are impressive.

My only so so product is the LX80. Works well for visual, I love the tripod, but very poor for DSO astrophotography. Even if it fully worked the design does not lend itself to ap.

#25 labmand

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 07:28 PM

Andrew, I'm north of Muskegon and south of Ludington,
been trying to get to the Holland star party the last 2 events
but clouds didn't cooperate so maybe next time. Would like to
see more positive Meade postings here and not so much Meade
baching.






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