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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Rand Barthel
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Reged: 12/16/12

Loc: Central Massachusetts
What's the deal with Meade and GEMs?
      #5928533 - 06/19/13 12:42 AM

It seems Meade is just not that interested in German EQ mounts any more. They also don't seem interested in selling OTAs separately either. Looking on their website, all of their scope lines except the most basic (LX80) are fork mounts, and you can't buy either OTAs or mounts separately. Unless they've hidden them cleverly on their website. All of which is too bad, because I would be much more interested in their OTAs if you could put them on third party mounts like Orion or iOptron.

I heard there were problems with the LX80 GE-capable mount. Have those been resolved?


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austin.grant
professor emeritus
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Reged: 10/18/10

Loc: Shreveport, LA
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Rand Barthel]
      #5928537 - 06/19/13 12:45 AM

I went to Meade.com, waited 3.17 seconds, and the LX850 popped-up in the box in the center of the screen. About 7.48 seconds later, the refractor OTA's popped up. Didn't seem very hidden to me, but perhaps I'm just more astute than the average guy?

Edited by austin.grant (06/19/13 12:46 AM)


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blueman
Photon Catcher
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Reged: 07/20/07

Loc: California
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: austin.grant]
      #5928552 - 06/19/13 12:54 AM

I just went to their page and they have no listings for the SCT OTAs. Can you post a link?
Blueman


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austin.grant
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Reged: 10/18/10

Loc: Shreveport, LA
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: blueman]
      #5928576 - 06/19/13 01:17 AM

Did you try here? I don't think they sell the SCT's separately. I suppose 2 outta 3 ain't bad?

Meade ACF Optical Tubes

**Whoops! I'd selected (f/8) in my link. Click the X and you'll get to see the rest.

Edited by austin.grant (06/19/13 11:08 AM)


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Spacetravelerx
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Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: austin.grant]
      #5928653 - 06/19/13 03:25 AM

Rand, et. al,

You completely forgot about the LX850 which is an excellent high end GEM.

Mind you, many folks still love fork mounts. There are pros and cons to Forks vs. GEMS. I have the LX850 now and love what I can do with it. But I am also looking now at the 10" LX600 for travel and more public outreach events. Plus the LX850 is moving into an observatory now. I will also get the LX600 with the wedge as I have had success with the Superwedge on the LX200.

Don't forget there other OTAs from Meade - the Meade 6000 Series APOs. Excellent units.

I don't want to get in the Fork vs. GEM debate, but there is certainly a need for high end fork mounts.


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Rand Barthel
super member


Reged: 12/16/12

Loc: Central Massachusetts
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: austin.grant]
      #5928753 - 06/19/13 07:39 AM

Point taken. I guess I have been ignoring things that are wildly out of my price range.

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LLEEGE
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Reged: 03/03/05

Loc: Cloud-chester,NY
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Rand Barthel]
      #5928772 - 06/19/13 08:03 AM

While not listed on their web site, a quick check of a few vendors shows they sell Meade OTA's a la carte.

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ahopp
sage


Reged: 05/24/12

Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: LLEEGE]
      #5928931 - 06/19/13 10:21 AM

http://store.meade.com/acf-ota.html

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Rand Barthel
super member


Reged: 12/16/12

Loc: Central Massachusetts
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: ahopp]
      #5930405 - 06/20/13 12:20 AM

OK, I admit it. I commented in haste before doping out the Meade website, which is divided rather sharply between an informational site and an online store. As I continue to daydream about how to spend lots of money that I don't have now but expect to have once we recover from our kids' college years, I guess I will now have to headscratch the relative merits of the Meade ACF-SCTs vs. the Celestron EdgeHD.

So Meade DOES have GEM mounts, but their poduct line has GEMs at the entry level (LX80) and the very high end (LX850) and forks in the middle (LX90, LX200, and LX600). By contrast, the Celestron line is more GEM-heavy, with only the CPC series having fork mounts.

I now perceive that my partiality toward Celestron comes from the fact that I am partial to GEMs, and Celestron has more to offer in the mid-price range were I will probably buy. Will the astro-gods strike me down for blasphemy if I mate a Meade OTA to a Celestron mount?


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LLEEGE
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Rand Barthel]
      #5930723 - 06/20/13 07:46 AM

No, however, there are other mid range price point options out there. Losmandy, Takahashi, Synta, Ioptron, etc....
And let's not for get the AP Mach1.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: LLEEGE]
      #5930852 - 06/20/13 09:08 AM

AP and Tak are "mid price"?! Not around here.

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Lee Jay
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Loc: Westminster, CO
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5930887 - 06/20/13 09:25 AM

Quote:

AP and Tak are "mid price"?! Not around here.




They are if you include companies like Planewave.


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orlyandico
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Loc: Singapore
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Lee Jay]
      #5930956 - 06/20/13 09:58 AM

Tak EM-3500 with pier - 350lb capacity, $83000
AP 3600GTO - 300lb capacity, $20000

That AP is damn cheap if you ask me (for someone who actually needed 300lb capacity)


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rmollise
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Lee Jay]
      #5931091 - 06/20/13 11:12 AM

Quote:



They are if you include companies like Planewave.




Uhh...I don't. Not by a purty long shot.

Edited by rmollise (06/20/13 11:15 AM)


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Rand Barthel
super member


Reged: 12/16/12

Loc: Central Massachusetts
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5931226 - 06/20/13 12:50 PM

My first rule for this is "no second mortgages to pay for astronomy." So I think that lets AP and PlaneWave off the hook. iOptron looks like a real possibility though.

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frolinmod
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Rand Barthel]
      #5931253 - 06/20/13 01:03 PM

Looking at the resale value of all my nighttime gear, all I have to say is, "Wow, that was one expensive 'rental!'"

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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: frolinmod]
      #5931267 - 06/20/13 01:08 PM

Cheaper than what a lot of people spend ricing up their cars..

A single long Canon white lens or a flagship DSLR can cost more than a Mach1. Heck I have a macro lens that costs more than all my scopes put together - and it's considered a midrange lens.


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rmollise
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5931331 - 06/20/13 01:43 PM

Quote:

Cheaper than what a lot of people spend ricing up their cars..

A single long Canon white lens or a flagship DSLR can cost more than a Mach1. Heck I have a macro lens that costs more than all my scopes put together - and it's considered a midrange lens.




I don't have any white lenses either...but my more prole Canon gear has no trouble turning out the publication quality images I need. So it is with my scopes and mounts, too...I frankly wouldn't know what to do with the high priced spread and it would be wasted on little old me.


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Spacetravelerx
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Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Rand Barthel]
      #5931544 - 06/20/13 03:44 PM

Quote:

OK, I admit it. I commented in haste before doping out the Meade website, which is divided rather sharply between an informational site and an online store. As I continue to daydream about how to spend lots of money that I don't have now but expect to have once we recover from our kids' college years, I guess I will now have to headscratch the relative merits of the Meade ACF-SCTs vs. the Celestron EdgeHD.

So Meade DOES have GEM mounts, but their poduct line has GEMs at the entry level (LX80) and the very high end (LX850) and forks in the middle (LX90, LX200, and LX600). By contrast, the Celestron line is more GEM-heavy, with only the CPC series having fork mounts.

I now perceive that my partiality toward Celestron comes from the fact that I am partial to GEMs, and Celestron has more to offer in the mid-price range were I will probably buy. Will the astro-gods strike me down for blasphemy if I mate a Meade OTA to a Celestron mount?





Nah, they won't strike you down. They accept those mixed marriage things.

Still, a lot of us prefer forks over GEMS, especially in the mid-range. I know I would take a fork for my mid-range travel scope any time over a GEM.

I will likely get the 10" LX600, and donate my 22 year old 10" LX200 to my kids. It still works and is in excellent shape.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Rand Barthel]
      #5932562 - 06/21/13 06:59 AM

Quote:

My first rule for this is "no second mortgages to pay for astronomy." So I think that lets AP and PlaneWave off the hook. iOptron looks like a real possibility though.




My first rule is if "the money isn't in the bank to pay for it, I don't buy."

I am with Rod... A-P is not midrange..

Jon


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DaveJ
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/07/05

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5933003 - 06/21/13 01:28 PM

Quote:

I am with Rod... A-P is not midrange.




Depends on how you look at it. I've purchased many midrange mounts and have not been truly happy with any of them, yet I keep doing it! If I'd just bitten the bullet back at the beginning and bought a new Mach I (or AP900) as I wanted, I'd have the mount I'd love to own and use AND be money ahead. There's an old expression "I'm too poor to buy cheap" or something like that. It applies in my case.


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SteveGR
member


Reged: 05/04/13

Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5938042 - 06/24/13 01:31 PM

It will be interesting the way Meade goes, I wonder how much the purchase will affect the product line and how quickly?

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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: SteveGR]
      #5938270 - 06/24/13 03:57 PM

If AP could produce an HC with the go-to accuracy of the NexStar, I could be convinced. 10K still doesn't spell mid-range, though, not for most of us peons.

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Spacetravelerx
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Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938293 - 06/24/13 04:13 PM

Quote:

If AP could produce an HC with the go-to accuracy of the NexStar, I could be convinced. 10K still doesn't spell mid-range, though, not for most of us peons.




Don't forget with Meade Starlock the go-to accuracy is spot on every time and the starting price there is $4500. Still pricey, but better than $10k. Of course the LX850 reaches the $10k price range too on the upper end.

The Lightswitch I understand also has excellent goto accuracy compared to the NexStar (heck, so does my LX200). So it can been done cheaper.

AP - yeah, that is not midrange at all.


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Spacetravelerx
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Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938294 - 06/24/13 04:13 PM

Quote:

If AP could produce an HC with the go-to accuracy of the NexStar, I could be convinced. 10K still doesn't spell mid-range, though, not for most of us peons.




Don't forget with Meade Starlock the go-to accuracy is spot on every time and the starting price there is $4500. Still pricey, but better than $10k. Of course the LX850 reaches the $10k price range too on the upper end.

The Lightswitch I understand also has excellent goto accuracy compared to the NexStar (heck, so does my LX200). So it can been done cheaper.

AP - yeah, that is not midrange at all.


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WadeH237
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Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5938342 - 06/24/13 04:38 PM

Quote:

The Lightswitch I understand also has excellent goto accuracy compared to the NexStar (heck, so does my LX200). So it can been done cheaper.




Better than AP, but only if your scope is not orthogonal (if your scope is orthogonal, AP goto is extremely accurate).

Better than NexStar? I've never heard that claim before. NexStar goto is fantastic.


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Starhawk
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Reged: 09/16/08

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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5938349 - 06/24/13 04:44 PM

I'm not understanding what you are pricing in these numbers.

An LX850 is $6K at OPT. A Mach 1 GTO is $6.35k, and an AP 1100 is $8800.

What's the $4500 mount and what's the $10K mount?

-Rich


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Spacetravelerx
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Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5938436 - 06/24/13 05:46 PM

Quote:

I'm not understanding what you are pricing in these numbers.

An LX850 is $6K at OPT. A Mach 1 GTO is $6.35k, and an AP 1100 is $8800.

What's the $4500 mount and what's the $10K mount?

-Rich




Rich,

I should clarify since the Celestron Nexstar was referenced I was comparing also systems with mount and OTA.

- $4500 gets you a 10" LX600. This gives you high precision pointing via Starlock.
- $10k gets you 14" LX850. Yes, the LX850 alone is $6k.

LS series is of course cheaper.

The LX850 has several things the Mach 1 GTO does not have, so the price comparison is not valid at all and highly misleading. Features missing on the Mach 1 that LX850 has:
* Starlock, a dual observer guide system (no one has this yet - this is specific to observability and controllability). This of course also provides for OTA polar alignment including automatic drift alignment, AND HPP pointing. So more than just a guide scope.
* Mounting plate and mount adaptor (LX850 supports both Vixen AND Losmandy at the same time)
* GPS
* Counter weights
* Tripod
* Power supply (You need buy a power supply with Mach 1??!?!?!?)
* Serial cables
* Microfocuser
* Vibration pads

Also, you need Pempro with Mach 1; don't really it with the LX850. It appears you need a polar alignment scope with the Mach 1; you don't with the LX850. The Mach 1 goes well over $10k with no OTA very quickly when you add most of the features of the LX850. AP1100? Well over $12k with no OTA. Now, if you are satisfied with the Mach 1 as is with no tripod, guide system, counter weights, etc then party to the people I say!

Though the weather has not been nice for me and I am currently on travel, I have been so far very impressed with the LX850. Sufficiently impressed, that my business will be purchasing more Meade products in support of our research and directing others to do so on our team. Yeah, there is that buy out thing going on, but I am rather confident on that front.


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rmollise
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5938508 - 06/24/13 06:27 PM

Quote:



Better than AP, but only if your scope is not orthogonal (if your scope is orthogonal, AP goto is extremely accurate).




If you use an SCT, like I do, you can purty much bet you will be slightly less than orthogonal every time due to the moving mirror.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938772 - 06/24/13 09:50 PM

This "the Mach1 goes over $10K..." myth always pops up. And what riles me is that people believe this stuff, it ends up discouraging those who might be considering AP gear. It certainly discouraged me - until I did the math.

To add the (basic) stuff to a Mach1 like a saddle, counterweights, tripod, power supply.. will take it to about $7K (a Robin Casady saddle is $155, a couple 9SLCWT weights is $230.. pricey, or use the Meade LX80 weights for $30 a pop, which fit the Mach1 "thin" counterweight shaft).

The biggest cost there is the tripod, because AP's tripods are expensive (their cheapest is over $700). But as I've pointed out, an $80 Celestron Ultima tripod works without modification.

What else is missing.. a guide scope and stand-alone guider. A Lacerta MGEN is about $600. Even a pretty swanky guide scope is going to be less than $400. So figure $1K for that. Me, I already had a dirt-cheap Meade DSI and a 60mm f9 guide scope. You can guide a Mach1 through its serial port (cable supplied) so a GPUSB or similar isn't needed. You'll need serial port control anyway for pointing control. Yeah you'll need a USB to serial adapter ($15).

I don't imagine a GPS as being terribly useful, but the $130 StarGPS works with AP mounts.

We're still a long way from $10K...

Of course there are no Mach1's to be had till the next batch in 2014. I bought used, so I spent even less than the figures above suggest.

And.. although the Mach1 has far less payload (on paper) than the LX850, people successfully image with 10" RCs and C11's on it. I could argue that someone using a C11 would be in the same range as an LX850 user. Of course I am pretty sure a 14" would be beyond a Mach1's capacity.

As I've also noted previously, AP is much less expensive than Planewave, or Takahashi. And while they aren't exactly mid-range (except arguably the Mach1) they are in my experience a very good value. I would take one Mach1 over four CGEM's any day, for example. The money I spent on my (pre-Mach1) mount upgrade path, would have sufficed to buy one outright. So I ended up spending twice the money, and I now have extra mounts that I can't get rid of.


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Spacetravelerx
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Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938842 - 06/24/13 10:35 PM

Quote:

This "the Mach1 goes over 10k..." always pops up.

Not really. To add the (basic) stuff to a Mach1 like a saddle, counterweights, tripod, power supply.. will take it to about $7K. The biggest cost there is the tripod, because AP's tripods are expensive. But as I've pointed out, an $80 Celestron Ultima tripod works without modification.

What else is missing.. a guide scope and stand-alone guider. A Lacerta MGEN is about $600. Even a pretty swanky guide scope is going to be less than $400. So figure $1K for that.

I don't imagine a GPS as being terribly useful, but the $130 StarGPS works with AP mounts.

We're still a long way from $10K...




True, one can go on the cheap with some items.

For example a cheaper tripod, though I have to believe folks who are dropping $6300 on the mount would not go cheap on the tripod. But I could see a couple of folks saving money just to get the mount.

Still you need the weights, mounting plates and such which all depend on the OTA. Of course if you want to match the LX850 feature to feature you will need a mounting plate sufficient to carry two OTAs to be fair.

And the guide scope combo you mention is not the same as Starlock. Maybe my question should be what is out there that provides for a "dual observer" control system? Will the systems you mention provide this? What software will you run to do this? Does these guiders provide HPP and automated drift alignment?

I know some folks prefer Manual drift alignment, but gosh, doesn't that take more time? I would hate to lose time doing VA, AP or visual stuff.

GPS can be useful - I turn on my mount and time and location is automatically calculated and used automatically in the alignment, et. al. process. Yes, I know, people prefer to manually enter it all in. More lost time, and more chance for error, but you never know about technology. Be scared of it. In my day we used a sextant for navigation too! Maybe we should use LORAN?

So lets see. AP Mach 1 - $6300. Less capable guide system, $1000, and missing features. PEMPro? $150 (you are doing AP, right?). Tripod - we are going cheap there, $80. GPS, $130. Mounting plates and attachments? $250. Counter weights? Mine came with 3 25lb SS weights. AP has them for $260 each, yikes! I guess though, you could cobble something together in a shop and go cheap there. $55 to $185 for the power supply, though you could ebay that item too.

So going cheap and cobbling together parts to make the AP Mach 1 doable you are still over $8300. But note a theme here - you spend a lot on the mount and go cheap and cobble it all together on the rest of the items. Seems awfully lame and silly after getting a great mount. In the LX850 - no cobbling, no going cheap. A great complete advanced system right out the gate. It is all there.

I am not saying the AP Mach 1 is bad. It is isn't. But it is certainly missing things I can get with the LX850, and hence why I chose the LX850 (and certainly why I chose the LX850 over the CGEPro). There is a market for the AP Mach 1, and you are also purchasing a personal relationship with a great team. It is similar to the fact that there is a market for the Questar, etc. This is fine. This is ok. It is just not what I was looking for, and I was looking for a more extensive feature set.

I can imagine there are a few folks who scrimp and save for the Mach 1 and cobble the rest together, but I bet top dollar most folks purchase everything they need through AP and/or their retailers and don't ask about the price. If you have to, you probably can't afford it as they say.

But still, I have not seen an Apples to Apples comparison.


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rmollise
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938847 - 06/24/13 10:41 PM

Quote:

This "the Mach1 goes over $10K..." myth always pops up.




OK...so...what 9K with everything from AP?

Edited by rmollise (06/24/13 10:43 PM)


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WadeH237
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Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938905 - 06/24/13 11:26 PM

Quote:

If you use an SCT, like I do, you can purty much bet you will be slightly less than orthogonal every time due to the moving mirror.




Sure, this is true.

My point is that AP gets a reputation for less-than-great goto performance based on the conventional wisdom amassed from threads like this. In reality, the mount's goto performance is really outstanding (I believe that it even accounts for refraction based on the target altitude).

It's a valid point to say that AP mounts are lacking a feature to account for non-orthogonality. What's missing from the conversation, though, is a discussion on the importance of these features.

Before I got my AP mount, I was a bit worried about pointing accuracy (and also on polar alignment, since AP doesn't have a routine like ASPA). It turns out that threads like this had me worried needlessly.

Consider this, and keep in mind that I am imaging with an SCT, moving mirror and all.

With the AP mount, and some extra tools, like a bubble level, local coordinates and accurate time, I can set up and polar align the mount during the day (using the bubble level to establish mount altitude and either the Sun or Moon to establish azimuth). While still broad daylight, I can initialize my automation software with an imaging plan, and then start setting up the CGE.

Once the CGE is set up, I wait for dark. Once I start seeing stars, I do the 2+4 alignment and ASPA. While this is going on, the automation software wakes up and starts the imaging routine on the AP with no further hands-on assistance.

For this to work, the AP goto has to put the initial target within 2 CCD fields in order for the first plate solve to work and sync the mount. This seems to happen pretty regularly with nothing more than the daytime polar alignment - and no multiple star alignment, like NexStar.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Celestron gear (and I have lots of it). I just hate to see the AP get a bad rap for goto performance, when it's just not a problem.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5938915 - 06/24/13 11:33 PM

I would actually disagree that going with 3rd-party suppliers for AP gear is a "can't afford it" symptom. As DaveJ said above "I'm too poor to buy cheap" - I wish I had known that before buying a collection of less-expensive mounts.. (that added up to the price of a Mach1)

Robin Casady saddles are better than AP saddles. Ditto for his weights. Rob Miller tripods are better (and cheaper) than the AP equivalents. AP is not always the best for the rest of the bits - but they certainly get my money for the mount itself.

There are a lot of decent tripod choices that aren't $1000+ - a Losmandy G11 HD tripod works fine with the Mach1 - I didn't go there as the Losmandy tripod is too heavy for me. A Berlebach Uni or Planet, or a Geoptik Hercules. None of these tripods are "cheap" but they are very good (the Hercules has a 250lb payload and weighs 14lb, for example).

But then my payload is small, and the Celestron Ultima tripod works fine for it. So why even bother with an AP then.. because you can't get that level of performance (sub-arcsecond corrected PE and non-existent declination guiding issues) in any mount smaller than the Mach1.

One other issue (aside from all the Meade doom and gloom) is that the LX850 bare mount is extremely heavy (55# for the head alone, and I find the 40# CGEM head already at the limit of manageability).

Even if the 850 was $3000 and Meade was a billion-dollar company with healthy profits I wouldn't buy one, for that reason alone..


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938946 - 06/24/13 11:48 PM

... and this really goes back to the OP's topic.

What is a good "mid-range" mount?

If the Mach1 is not mid-range, then the LX850 is not mid-range, at $6K. If you consider the 850 to be mid-range, I would also submit that the Mach1, AP900, and PMX are arguably mid-range as well.. the PMX is $8K with everything except the tripod, so arguably a better deal than the AP900 or 1100.. except for that bothersome need for a PC.

Seems that there isn't any $2000 range mount with better mechanicals than the ubiquitous Atlas and CGEM. The iEQ45 is much lighter but based on what I've read and seen in my brief handling of a '45, it's not as well-constructed as the Atlas and CGEM.


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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938966 - 06/25/13 12:02 AM

Quote:

Seems that there isn't any $2000 range mount with better mechanicals than the ubiquitous Atlas and CGEM.




Too true. The CGE's demise left a gap that has never been filled.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5938967 - 06/25/13 12:04 AM

Arguably, a CGE with modernized connectors (i.e. Bennett mod as "stock") would be a slam dunk.

But I also suspect Celestron wasn't making any money on them, which was why they were discontinued.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938996 - 06/25/13 12:21 AM

Quote:

Arguably, a CGE with modernized connectors (i.e. Bennett mod as "stock") would be a slam dunk.




I'd be OK with the original connectors. I never had trouble with either of my CGE mounts (though I did spend $15 each replacing the cables with longer, more flexible ones). I'd demand a redesign of the tripod leg lock bolts, though. Both of mine jammed more than once, requiring a leg teardown to repair.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5939003 - 06/25/13 12:27 AM

it's amazing though that Celestron would nickel-and-dime you on those connectors.

They save maybe $5 per connector by using RJ-45's instead of the twist-lock connectors that the Bennett mod and AP uses.

I have to admit, the reports here on CN about too-good-to-be-true periodic error from the iOptron AZ-EQ25 intrigue me.. for $700-ish it sounds like an interesting product. Now if only I could get rid of my boat anchor CGEM...

The new EQ8 also looks like a worthy offering, but its price is getting up there as well.. if we define "mid range" as under $3000, there's very little available from any manufacturer... which is probably why Losmandy owns this space.


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5939007 - 06/25/13 12:33 AM

Quote:

I would actually disagree that going with 3rd-party suppliers for AP gear is a "can't afford it" symptom. As DaveJ said above "I'm too poor to buy cheap" - I wish I had known that before buying a collection of less-expensive mounts.. (that added up to the price of a Mach1)

Robin Casady saddles are better than AP saddles. Ditto for his weights. Rob Miller tripods are better (and cheaper) than the AP equivalents. And so on..

(too bad Rob Miller can't be contacted anymore, and Robin Casady is closing down his business)

In my case, the only part I skimped on was the tripod, as even a Rob Miller is $1000 plus (and that's cheaper than AP). A Losmandy G11 HD tripod works fine with the Mach1 - I would not consider it "skimping" but I didn't go there as the Losmandy tripod is too heavy for me. A Berlebach Uni is another option, or a Planet if the load requires it.

AP is not always the best for the rest of the bits - but they certainly get my money for the mount itself.

But then my payload is small, and the Celestron Ultima tripod works fine for it. So why even bother with an AP then.. because you can't get that level of performance (sub-arcsecond corrected PE and non-existent declination guiding issues) in any mount smaller than the Mach1.

One other issue (aside from all the Meade doom and gloom) is that the LX850 bare mount is extremely heavy. Even if it was $3000 and Meade was a billion-dollar company with healthy profits I wouldn't buy one, for that sole reason.





The point still is when I purchased my LX850 I did not have to look around to complete the kit. For the Mach 1 to reach the features of the LX850 I would indeed spend more - and still not have all the features of the LX850.

Yes, the LX850 is heavier than the Mach 1, but the LX850 weight spec also includes the mounting plate, OTA mounting mechanisms and DEC counter weight; the LX850 also has a 90 lb load capacity. I have loaded it over 70lbs with no problem already. I will be adding 10 more when I get home, so I will see how far I can go with this.

Is sub-arcsecond typical for you? Isn't this beyond the resolution of a pixel for a CCD camera used on, lets say, a C11? Does this spec matter? I can see this for the large telescopes and things I have worked on that have flown in space, but is this a typical requirement for the telescopes mounted on the Mach1? Is this requirement typical for the average APer?

I still contend the average configured Mach 1 is well above $6350. Which is not mid-range in price, even at the "entry level".

Anyways, on topic, Meade has a high end GEM, a great kit for a good price and great value - and not mid-range either! Yes, pricey, for most folks. Or in the price range, but wife will never approve of the purchase...

On the other end of the price range (and this WILL get the flames going ), I have seen lately very favorable comments on the LX80. Has something subtle changed in the design? I saw one a month ago, and I have to say I was very impressed with it and its price. And they do seem to be selling. This might be just below mid-range in price, but it seems to cover the 98% of the need out there (great goto's, 5 minute subs with guiding I hear, great for visual, mid-range size and mass of OTA) plus the very interesting dual OTA set-up (I can see this for outreach events). Only negative is that it is not an easy "grab and go", but everything is a compromise. I am about the pull the trigger on this unit and buy it, but I hear hints this might undergo a change. Then again, it seems fine as it is now.


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akulapanam
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5939014 - 06/25/13 12:40 AM

The Meade LX850 and LX600 look really nice. In fact it looks like the "iphonesk" solution for astrophotography. However, until the whole Meade financial issue gets straightened out I'm leery of buying. PHD and All Star Polar Align are also pretty easy to use and if my guiding breaks I don't have to go to the trouble of sending it back to Meade to get it fixed.

I have recently been thinking about exactly what mid range is in astronomy. I figure if you want at least a basic astrophotography option:

Low end - Under $2K for mount and telescope (basic refractor ED-80, Basic Mount CG-5)

Low-Mid end - $2K to $5K (CGEM/Atlas/CPC and Edge/Nicer Refractor)

Mid-End - $5K to $10K (Specialty 10"/C14/Nice Refractor on CGE Pro or AP mount). The limit in this range is probably a C14 or Meade 14 LX850 although you might be able to do a 150mm refractor or AT12RC on CGE Pro.

Upper End - $20K-$35K Now there is a huge jump($10K) at this point for some reason, probably lack of competition. This is where you find a $10K-$15K mount (like a Paramount or ASA DirectDrive) and a $10K - $15K scope (Planewave 12"/17", Meade 16", ASA INs, RCOS, Hyperion ect...) . Oh by the way you also probably need a $10K 35mm or better ccd camera to have any field too. I personally wonder about the value of some of the smaller scopes and the mounts in this field... How much better is an ASA IN or a Planewave 12.5 compared to the equivalent GSO product? I have to imagine that the Paramount and the ASA DirectDrive is a lot better then a CGE pro but I'm not sure if it is worth double the price especially without onboard computers.

Elite End - Again a real big jump here to the $35K+ level but you start to see 20" scopes. I personally wonder how many Planewave .7 meter scopes they are selling.


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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5939123 - 06/25/13 03:39 AM

Quote:

Is sub-arcsecond typical for you? Isn't this beyond the resolution of a pixel for a CCD camera used on, lets say, a C11?




You are talking about imaging, but I don't know that you have much experience with it on your current mount or other mounts. The only images I have seen from you are video captures.

Guiding with a small guidescope can certainly be sub arc-second, but it is limited by flexure - and that flexure will occur with any mount when guidescope guiding because a lot of it is within the OTA itself - except for refractors.

There are many ways to align a mount, and I thought the lx850 relied on a semi-automated drift alignment procedure that you in fact touted. Any time you do a drift alignment you need to wait to measure the drift and then adjust, and iterate. Since the lx850 does rely on a form of drift alignment - it is already slower than something like all star polar alignment.

One thing that rarely comes up in these discussions is that the "integrated" aspect of the lx850 is only between the guiding system and the mount - but it leaves out one of the most important elements: the imager. This means, for one thing, that you cannot dither.

Unless there is some mechanism for the imaging system to talk to the mount and tell it to dither between exposures, the inability to dither is a major downside that most *any* mount/guiding/imaging system can do as long as the imaging software is in control.

The benefit offered by starlock is that when you tell the mount to move, it can turn off guiding and then make the move all by itself. When guiding software is in control, you press one button to turn off guiding, and then do the goto. Thus it saves a single button press - but you lose the ability to dither.

Frank


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cn register 5
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5939130 - 06/25/13 03:56 AM

Quote:

The benefit offered by starlock is that when you tell the mount to move, it can turn off guiding and then make the move all by itself. When guiding software is in control, you press one button to turn off guiding, and then do the goto. Thus it saves a single button press - but you lose the ability to dither.

Frank




This should be pretty easy to do with an ASCOM guiding/scope driver. It acts as an ASCOM telescope hub and also connects to PHD.
When a slew is commanded guiding is turned off and when the slew completes a new star is found and guiding started. Only then is the slew reported as finished.
It could also hook into a camera so dithering could be done.

Come to think of it Sequence Generator Pro does most of this - for $99.

Chris


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freestar8n
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5939144 - 06/25/13 04:15 AM

MetaGuide was the first guide software I know of to allow dither control from imaging apps such as ImagesPlus - by allowing the imaging software to communicate to the guide software and tell it to adjust the guidestar location in a random manner. I believe other software has since offered similar functionality. The key is that it must happen between exposures - so the imaging software must make the dither command.

In this mode there need not be any ascom involved at all and you can just have the guide software wired to the st4 port - and it all works.

If you did have ascom involved, then you would have a number of elements: ascom, guide software, imaging software, mount control software - and they could indeed all communicate and cooperate happily - including turning off guiding when a slew happens.

But I guess my main point is - there are some advantages to having things more loosely coupled - and pressing an extra button is no big deal in the first place - especially if you sacrifice the ability to dither just for that button press.

Another point is - if you are imaging, then you need some kind of imaging software to take exposures in the first place. There are many options there, from free to expensive. If you are going to have it anyway, you can use it as the main form of integration - and then you have a fully integrated system without special hardware.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5939171 - 06/25/13 05:36 AM

sub-arcsecond is common. My C9.25 at native FL with my (cheap) large pixel OSC is under 1" per pixel. And if you think that sort of resolution is not needed by us non-advanced imagers.. the Eskimo and Cleopatra's Eye both need even more focal length than I can muster.

Hardly a "high end" setup or "advanced" imaging requirements..


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freestar8n
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5939184 - 06/25/13 06:02 AM

Quote:

And if you think that sort of resolution is not needed by us non-advanced imagers..




I assume by "you" you mean Spacetraveleretx/Andrew - and not "me" - since my guiding work with MetaGuide is focused on optimal imaging with mid-range equipment - and I achieve sub 2" fwhm in long exposures regardless of large PE - etc.

Since people were talking about the CGE, I have one of the early ones, nearly 10 years old now and with the original cables. It has 25-30" pk-pk PE with gearbox noise - and using OAG and MetaGuide with 1s guide updates I am getting sub 2" fwhm in 15m exposures from a non-special sea level suburban location.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5939185 - 06/25/13 06:04 AM

Yes Frank, of course.

I have the greatest of respect for the work and results you've achieved with MG.

What sort of camera are you using to get 1s updates with an OAG, though? that must be a pretty sensitive - and spendy - camera..


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freestar8n
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5939191 - 06/25/13 06:24 AM

My early work with MG was mainly with Lumenera, which is fairly expensive. But as long as the guidestar is bright enough, video rates at 5 fps are not difficult and allow 1s updates with low latency. You can do it with an inexpensive toucam pro or neximage if the star is bright enough.

With the lumenera and oag on c11 I could guide on 9+ mag. stars at 7 fps.

Nowadays I am focused on the QHY5L-II, which is much cheaper and looks much more sensitive and lower read noise - despite tiny 3.75um pixels. It also has an st4 hardware port built in, which MG now supports for direct pulseguiding. The small pixels are also well suited to guidescope guiding.

So you don't need an expensive video camera to guide at 1s periods - since most will allow rates of 5-10 fps that work for guiding. But new ones like the qhy are very well suited for video guiding.

This stuff should work well with any mount but in terms of cost and added components, a celestron mount includes nexremote and pectool - so if you add a small guidescope and the qhy camera, plus MG (free) and imaging/control software for your imaging camera - you have a complete system with a hardware connection to the mount. For best results use OAG and then you don't need the guidescope.

Thanks,
Frank


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LLEEGE
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5939306 - 06/25/13 08:42 AM

Until used LX850's start showing up on the used market, it's speculation, but I'm willing to bet what you spend "up front" will be gained back in resale value. Using the CGE-Pro as an example, its fit, finish and performance falls far short of what a Mach 1 gives. I wouldn't give two nickles for a used Pro.

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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5939307 - 06/25/13 08:42 AM

Gday Frank

Different Andrew here

Re
Quote:

One thing that rarely comes up in these discussions is that the "integrated" aspect of the lx850 is only between the guiding system and the mount - but it leaves out one of the most important elements: the imager. This means, for one thing, that you cannot dither.




Not sure i understand this bit ( or if its totally correct ).
As far as i can tell from the coding, there is nothing to stop an imager from dithering between frames.
The guiding code in the firmware is smart enough to know if an incoming giuide/move command is from StarLock, ( based on comms channel used ).
If a pulseguide command comes in on the free rs232 channel, or an ST4 request comes in, it looks like Starlock auto disengages until the move finishes, then immediately reacquires a guide star and keeps on trucking at the new location.
As such, the dithered move should be respected/preserved.
I cant test it in real life, but the mechanism sure appears there to allow it.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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freestar8n
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5939338 - 06/25/13 09:07 AM

The key point is that the command "dither" is a special command to the component that is doing the autoguiding and, for example, is holding the star centroid to a particular x,y location. Does the lx850 command set include a dither command? If so, can a generic imaging application such as maxim or imagesplus make that command between exposures?

The way MetaGuide implemented it long ago, and I think others do also, is to allow a special windows message as a crude IPC that just says "dither". It needs no special coordinates or other parameters - it just triggers the guide software to change the target xy location a small amount, and randomly, and - most importantly - between exposures so it doesn't mess up the image. The guide software needs to make the decision of how much to move - and to keep track of the original "home" guide location.

Imagers learn pretty quickly that dithering is important - especially with relatively noise dslr's - and especially when flexure causes unpleasant streaking in the stacked images.

Unless the lx850 has such a command set, and it is supported by whatever imaging software people choose to use, I don't know how it could currently dither. I imagine it could be added in later - but it would still require a coordinated effort between the guide software and the imaging software - as has already occured for MG and imagesplus - for example.

In MG I provide both the windows message and a simple executable that causes a "dither" to happen. You can't send a windows broadcast from apps like maxim - so one way maxim can make mg dither is by calling that exe between images - with a few second delay to recover from the shift.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: LLEEGE]
      #5939476 - 06/25/13 10:37 AM

I disagree I think $2500 for a used Pro is acceptable.. your point about resale is well-taken however..

Thank heavens I don't ever expect to re-sell my Mach1. If ever I go bigger I will almost certainly keep it for backup. But bigger will mean I will have a nice yard in a nice dark-sky spot. Likely not to happen for years, decades maybe. Goes back to the Mach1's weight. It's the best reasonably-light mount you can buy.


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dawziecat
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5939487 - 06/25/13 10:47 AM

Quote:

I just hate to see the AP get a bad rap for goto performance, when it's just not a problem.




I eagerly await the arrival of an AP1100 as soon as A-P gets it ready to ship. In the interim, I have read the manuals and, fresh from a G11 Gemini 2, it seems clear to me that A-P software is lagging way behind. The A-P keypad seems reminiscent of the clunky original Gemini HC that almost nobody liked. It bears no resemblance to the glitzy Gemini 2 HC! There are so many features that the A-P HC doesn't have compared to Gemini 2, I would surely miss several if I attempted to list them. And more new ones are being added regularly . . . see Hilmi's post of just today.

A-P mounts may well be mechanically superb. I sure hope so as I will be buying one very soon. But their software and their HC seems aeons old.

The GOTO accuracy is of small concern to me but, considering A-P's price point and reputation, we really shouldn't even be discussing this.

I look forward to my AP1100. But I already miss my Gemini 2. All the teeth gnashing from its growing pains aside, Gemini 2 seems the GOTO software of the future. A-P's is of a rapidly fading past.

If I could graft a Gemini 2 onto an AP1100 . . . I'd love to do so!

Edited by dawziecat (06/25/13 11:01 AM)


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EFT
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: akulapanam]
      #5939493 - 06/25/13 10:49 AM

Quote:

The Meade LX850 and LX600 look really nice. In fact it looks like the "iphonesk" solution for astrophotography. However, until the whole Meade financial issue gets straightened out I'm leery of buying. PHD and All Star Polar Align are also pretty easy to use and if my guiding breaks I don't have to go to the trouble of sending it back to Meade to get it fixed.

I have recently been thinking about exactly what mid range is in astronomy. I figure if you want at least a basic astrophotography option:

Low end - Under $2K for mount and telescope (basic refractor ED-80, Basic Mount CG-5)

Low-Mid end - $2K to $5K (CGEM/Atlas/CPC and Edge/Nicer Refractor)

Mid-End - $5K to $10K (Specialty 10"/C14/Nice Refractor on CGE Pro or AP mount). The limit in this range is probably a C14 or Meade 14 LX850 although you might be able to do a 150mm refractor or AT12RC on CGE Pro.

Upper End - $20K-$35K Now there is a huge jump($10K) at this point for some reason, probably lack of competition. This is where you find a $10K-$15K mount (like a Paramount or ASA DirectDrive) and a $10K - $15K scope (Planewave 12"/17", Meade 16", ASA INs, RCOS, Hyperion ect...) . Oh by the way you also probably need a $10K 35mm or better ccd camera to have any field too. I personally wonder about the value of some of the smaller scopes and the mounts in this field... How much better is an ASA IN or a Planewave 12.5 compared to the equivalent GSO product? I have to imagine that the Paramount and the ASA DirectDrive is a lot better then a CGE pro but I'm not sure if it is worth double the price especially without onboard computers.

Elite End - Again a real big jump here to the $35K+ level but you start to see 20" scopes. I personally wonder how many Planewave .7 meter scopes they are selling.




You left out the $10K to $20K range in which there are a significant number of mounts. What would you consider those?


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: EFT]
      #5939507 - 06/25/13 10:58 AM

Terry, I know that AP electronics seems absolutely stone age compared even to Celestron - let alone the Gemini 2.

But you'll get used to it. Trust me.

I believe AP doesn't actually build their electronics, it is sub-contracted to some other company. And supposedly these electronics are mil spec. You never hear about bugs in the GTO controllers (unlike the numerous ones over the years in Gemini 2).

The GTO electronics does what it does very, very well. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but reliable.

If you read the manual as well, AP notes that in case of RA motor failure, you can swap the motors and keep on imaging (albeit you lose GoTo since no more DEC motor). Can any other mount controller claim that?

That said, I am not blind to the relative lack of features of the AP controller. Coming from a Nexstar that is. But you can remedy this with an iPad and Skyfi or Skywire (to some extent).

and heck, if we want to cast blame for stone age electronics, there's a certain Takahashi Seisakusho which is a far worse offender..

I personally think that a Nexstar hand controller on an AP mount would be tremendous! and this is in the realm of the possible: use the existing AP servos, get a custom Nexstar controller board (the NexSXD folks have done it for Vixen, I am sure they can do it for AP) and use a Nexstar hand controller.

But I fail to see any AP owner ever going down that route...


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Dwight J
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #5939586 - 06/25/13 11:46 AM

Our club has an AP 1200 with a C14. I am wondering what features you are missing that you feel you need with an AP mount. Polar alignment is easy using the polar scope and a quick tweak in drift alignment (although ours is permanently mounted). It has a synthetic autoguide feature ( pulse guide I think it is called) PEC, park, etc. although I don't image much with it I can routinely get 4 to 5 min unguided images with it using a Mallincam or DSLR on the piggyback refractor. The hand controller is very robust an upgradeable. I think simple but overbuilt is the way to go and the extra "features" are unnecessary and, if they quit working make the mount inoperable. My personal mount is a Tak EM 200 and it is even simplistic. I really like how these mounts just work out of the box and continue to do so for years. My previous mounts were an EQ6 Synscan which I could never get to autoguide despite 2 years of trying and a LXD 55 which I don't need to elaborate on my adventures with it.
If I was in the market for a lower price mount I would consider an Ioptron model. From what I have seen on NightSkiesNetwork they work extremely well, particularity the IEq75.
A litmus test for mounts ( and lots of other equipment) is how many posts they generate and, to a lesser extent, the content of those posts.
BTW, congrats on the new mount and you won't regret your decision to buy it.


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dawziecat
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Dwight J]
      #5940198 - 06/25/13 05:41 PM

Hi Dwight:

First off, STAY DRY out there!

I am not here to totally hijack this thread
And certainly not to "trash" A-P. That said, I would like to see some changes. Since you ask, two things spring immediately to mind that I will miss when I begin using my AP1100:

1/ Easy setting and access to multiple bookmarks. I have learned how to set up a sort of bookmark to use when shifting away from a target to check focus and then back to the target with accurate, repeatable framing. In Gemini 2 it's easier and you can have four bookmarks.

2/ No Sharpless catalogue. I will miss it.

Of course neither of these is insurmountable. I do not disagree that many of the frills in Gemini 2 are just that . . . frills. Doesn't make 'em bad.

If I thought I'd be better off sticking with a G11 Gemini 2, rather obviously I would have done so. No doubt the AP1100 will outperform the G11 . . . at least I sure hope so! It will be a staggeringly expensive lesson for me to find out it doesn't! There will be copious

Hi Orlando:
I am prepared to accept A-P software as it is. No harm wishing it were more up-to-date. Perhaps you can't have "cutting edge"(Gemini 2) and "bulletproof" (A-P) both.

Now, back to "Meade and GEMs."

Edited by dawziecat (06/25/13 05:43 PM)


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5940219 - 06/25/13 05:53 PM

Gday Frank

Quote:

Does the lx850 command set include a dither command?




Not based on it having to know where it is relative to a "home" position.
( considering it is an openloop process )
A random move command could be easily scripted to do a dead reckoning
move "between" exposures without problems, but controlling the absolute delta is not possible ( that i can see ) as it would always be an open feedback loop.
How much error in position would be a problem before later stacking got affected??

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

PS there are new commands to allow small multi axis moves,
but the encoder resolution and target resolution used are too large
to get accurate "nudges", as the commands are really fullblown slews,
vs the much more precise pulseguides,
( which can apply absolute deltas to the encoder positions to do a "tweak" )


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Aquatone
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: dawziecat]
      #5940283 - 06/25/13 06:51 PM

Quote:

I eagerly await the arrival of an AP1100 as soon as A-P gets it ready to ship. In the interim, I have read the manuals and, fresh from a G11 Gemini 2, it seems clear to me that A-P software is lagging way behind. The A-P keypad seems reminiscent of the clunky original Gemini HC that almost nobody liked. It bears no resemblance to the glitzy Gemini 2 HC!




I suspect that being accused of not being "glitzy" is the highest compliment you could pay AP. Honestly the handpad is industrial strength. (It is an industrial hand controller after all) You could drop it from 50 feet or even into a swimming pool (uh, I did) and it will still work. It's clunky big buttons are easier to use with gloved fingers in the cold, oh and it will work at ridiculously low or high temperatures for years on end. The GTOCP3 control box has a small hole in it to let moisture OUT. Somethings should be non-glitzy and timeless. If you want the ultimate in software control and features plug the mount into a planetarium program!

Chris


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5940298 - 06/25/13 07:02 PM

Andrew,

Your responses on the Mach 1 GTO show you just aren't familiar with the product. It's ready to go out of the box. You get a kit of parts for what you are doing, so there are no extra parts with no obvious purpose. You can put it on a Losmandy tripod Berlbach, AP, or a pier. Plug it in and it runs. There's no alignment; it's already aligned. It's far more similar to a large observatory's operating behavior than a consumer product.

Your posts are just reflecting you didn't know what your alternatives actually were when you got the LX850. I know you think it's great; your repetitions of the spec sheet are 32% of the total content on CN at this point. So I've got it- after looking at it and nothing else, you've concluded it's awesome.

Unfamiliarity with an alternative product is not evidence of its inferiority. The Mach 1 GTO has many things it does well; starting with doing from the moment it is asked to.

So, the point in a thread like this is the discussion about mount performance- not a small subject, and one I'm really not feeling like getting into today. Something like 120 pages of thread on various high end mounts should suffice to talk to the issue.

-Rich


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freestar8n
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5940314 - 06/25/13 07:10 PM

Hi Andrew-

You can get good images without dithering, and you can dither manually by stopping the exposure sequence, moving the guidestar a bit, and restarting. But for advanced imagers dithering is almost a requirement for good statistical averaging of frames - and for imagers with dslr's and flexure, if you don't dither you can end up with very noticeable streaking that causes people to post in cn and ask, "what are these streaks?"

I mainly bring it up because an actual imaging system does require an imaging camera and software to control it - and since you need to add that anyway, it's not like you can just image right away with an lx850 and it is ready to go. And the lack of integration with the imaging camera poses limitations.

Dithering is special because it does require specific cooperation between the imager and the guider.

I don't think there is a standard mechanism for imaging software to send a dither command, but there are different software packages that will tell MG and other guide software to dither. It's possible something like that could happen for mounts with integrated guidescopes also -eventually.

Frank


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5940435 - 06/25/13 08:33 PM

Quote:

Andrew,

Your responses on the Mach 1 GTO show you just aren't familiar with the product. It's ready to go out of the box. You get a kit of parts for what you are doing, so there are no extra parts with no obvious purpose. You can put it on a Losmandy tripod Berlbach, AP, or a pier. Plug it in and it runs. There's no alignment; it's already aligned. It's far more similar to a large observatory's operating behavior than a consumer product.

Your posts are just reflecting you didn't know what your alternatives actually were when you got the LX850. I know you think it's great; your repetitions of the spec sheet are 32% of the total content on CN at this point. So I've got it- after looking at it and nothing else, you've concluded it's awesome.

Unfamiliarity with an alternative product is not evidence of its inferiority. The Mach 1 GTO has many things it does well; starting with doing from the moment it is asked to.

So, the point in a thread like this is the discussion about mount performance- not a small subject, and one I'm really not feeling like getting into today. Something like 120 pages of thread on various high end mounts should suffice to talk to the issue.

-Rich





Well, well, well...

Fun seeing all these posts on this topic while I am massively working away on a finalizing funding for a satellite comm system using optics, and wanting to comment, and then I see a silly post like this. Though I thought got silly when the topic got hijacked (it does happen with long ones), I see it takes a personal turn.

I think everyone here talks specs. And I think I have been speaking to actual experience to date also and why I made my purchase. Yes, I am learning the nuances about my purchase and optimizing it. But, I guess I am a fool or unfamiliar, since I made the wrong purchase. I did not know though the Mach 1 is already aligned right out of the box. Pretty amazing telescope if I do say!

I think I also said the Mach 1 was a fine instrument, but not what I was looking for and my reasons why.

An interesting evolution about Meade and GEMS to high end systems in this thread, and then the wonders of a Mach 1 and how it can be had relatively cheap...and it cures world hunger no less. Me? Obviously I am uninformed, because I did not tow the line on the Mach 1 (Sorry I guess it can be purchased for only $9,500, not $10k).

In the mean time I guess I won't get the added question answered on the LX80, you know, a Meade GEM in the intermediate/lower price range, since this is on topic.

Dithering, I am familiar but will deal with that another time.

And video astronomy? Hey it is a fun element of the hobby, I love it! Guilty as charged! And my audiences love it too (you know, the masses).

Back to work on the satellite side of things. But watch out, I am clearly unfamiliar and uninformed, so this thing might just crash on someone's home.

Rich, you must have bad weather where you are and/or you are a grumpy old guy. I would offer you the Meade conspiracy team gift of hickory smoked bacon, but you lost your bacon privileges.


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Mkofski
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5940461 - 06/25/13 08:52 PM

Andrew,

Can I have Rich's bacon? I'm a grumpy old man too but will take your side for pork products!

Mike


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5940465 - 06/25/13 08:54 PM

Gday Frank

Quote:

I don't think there is a standard mechanism for imaging software to send a dither command, but there are different software packages that will tell MG and other guide software to dither.




Understood, but i was more thinking that many automation scripts can control the sequencing of subs, change of filters etc as part of the imaging process.
Thus, if the script added a function to do a "dither move" between frames, ( ie a simple pulseguide), as far as i can see, the integrated Starlock "guiding" code wont "fight" with it, and hence doesnt have to be given any specific instructions other than to "move a bit".
The imaging camera and its control app stay master of what happens and when.

Only problem is that its open loop, so you cant "guarantee" a specific offset.
Not being into the statistics behind it all, i was just wondering how much effect this would have during later stacking.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5940714 - 06/26/13 12:12 AM

I'm not old enough to warrant bacon, anyway.

-Rich


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akulapanam
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: EFT]
      #5940719 - 06/26/13 12:16 AM

Quote:

Quote:

The Meade LX850 and LX600 look really nice. In fact it looks like the "iphonesk" solution for astrophotography. However, until the whole Meade financial issue gets straightened out I'm leery of buying. PHD and All Star Polar Align are also pretty easy to use and if my guiding breaks I don't have to go to the trouble of sending it back to Meade to get it fixed.

I have recently been thinking about exactly what mid range is in astronomy. I figure if you want at least a basic astrophotography option:

Low end - Under $2K for mount and telescope (basic refractor ED-80, Basic Mount CG-5)

Low-Mid end - $2K to $5K (CGEM/Atlas/CPC and Edge/Nicer Refractor)

Mid-End - $5K to $10K (Specialty 10"/C14/Nice Refractor on CGE Pro or AP mount). The limit in this range is probably a C14 or Meade 14 LX850 although you might be able to do a 150mm refractor or AT12RC on CGE Pro.

Upper End - $20K-$35K Now there is a huge jump($10K) at this point for some reason, probably lack of competition. This is where you find a $10K-$15K mount (like a Paramount or ASA DirectDrive) and a $10K - $15K scope (Planewave 12"/17", Meade 16", ASA INs, RCOS, Hyperion ect...) . Oh by the way you also probably need a $10K 35mm or better ccd camera to have any field too. I personally wonder about the value of some of the smaller scopes and the mounts in this field... How much better is an ASA IN or a Planewave 12.5 compared to the equivalent GSO product? I have to imagine that the Paramount and the ASA DirectDrive is a lot better then a CGE pro but I'm not sure if it is worth double the price especially without onboard computers.

Elite End - Again a real big jump here to the $35K+ level but you start to see 20" scopes. I personally wonder how many Planewave .7 meter scopes they are selling.




You left out the $10K to $20K range in which there are a significant number of mounts. What would you consider those?




If you have a $10K to 20K mount you probably have a $10k scope. My point is there isn't a lot of say $6 to $8K mount and $6K to $8K scope combos which would be in-between.


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: akulapanam]
      #5940810 - 06/26/13 01:30 AM

What? You mean I didn't need to get a Mach 1 to mount a ST80?

-Rich


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freestar8n
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5940849 - 06/26/13 02:42 AM

Quote:

Thus, if the script added a function to do a "dither move" between frames, ( ie a simple pulseguide), as far as i can see, the integrated Starlock "guiding" code wont "fight" with it, and hence doesnt have to be given any specific instructions other than to "move a bit".




Hi Andrew-

I see what you are saying and I think it is interesting for this mount. A "PulseGuide" by itself wouldn't work if the mount is in fact trying to keep itself centered on a particular ra/dec location - but theoretically a GoTo to a random location within about 5" could work - as long as it really can point, and not just guide, at that level of precision. It's interesting because under the covers I assume it would just be setting the target centroid of the star to a particular x,y location - but this might not be exposed to another app.

Ideally the move would be a "nudge" rather than a new slew. I don't think ascom supports such a special move but I'm not sure.

But mainly I see your point that the guidestar x,y need not be exposed and settable by dithering as long as you can in fact set the target ra/dec to within arc-seconds. And that need not be true accuracy but just relative precision, based on the centroid of a reference star.

But scripting the actual dithering would be a bit of a pain since you do want to have it hovering around the original location. Normally the guide software does all that and just responds to "dither."

Thanks,
Frank


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FoxTrot
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Rand Barthel]
      #5940864 - 06/26/13 02:59 AM

Quote:

It seems Meade is just not that interested in German EQ mounts any more. They also don't seem interested in selling OTAs separately either. Looking on their website, all of their scope lines except the most basic (LX80) are fork mounts, and you can't buy either OTAs or mounts separately. Unless they've hidden them cleverly on their website. All of which is too bad, because I would be much more interested in their OTAs if you could put them on third party mounts like Orion or iOptron.

I heard there were problems with the LX80 GE-capable mount. Have those been resolved?



Rand, getting back to your original question, I agree - what is it with Meade and GEMs ?... It seems to me that Meade put a lot of their limited resources into that Meade Max system and the LX800/850. And its just IMHO that I think they could have paid more attention to the GC-5 class and made a more worthy successor to the LXD75. The LX80 doesn't cut it in my book, it seems more suited for that altazimuth/dual scope mode, and looks rather awkward in GEM mode. By contrast, the Celestron VX and iOptron ZEQ25 have risen to the occasion, and I think Meade have left a large hole in their present line up.

Fox


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WadeH237
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: FoxTrot]
      #5940911 - 06/26/13 05:10 AM

The LX80 should have been a great successor to the LXD-75 (I've always thought that the LX80 would have been much more of a game changer than the LX850, if they could have brought it in at the original price point and met their promised capabilities).

My observation of Meade in the last 10 years is that they have some interesting ideas, but they routinely miss the mark on the basics. If they focused less on marketing and more on engineering and quality control, I would think that they would not be in the position that they are today.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5940919 - 06/26/13 05:52 AM

1) I don't really see the relevance of spacetravelerx/Andrew relentlessly bringing up his satellite day job as if it lends greater weight to his opinions.

2) the reason I didn't respond to the LX80 query is.. Have you read the feedback on that thing? Plastic gears, inability to track in polar mode, tripod hubs that crack and dump your scope..... I wouldn't get one even if Meade gave them away.

The celestron avx and ioptron azeq25 are both better uses of $1000 odd than Meade's LX80.


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Mkofski]
      #5940928 - 06/26/13 06:10 AM

Quote:

Andrew,

Can I have Rich's bacon? I'm a grumpy old man too but will take your side for pork products!

Mike





Mike,

You can have Rich's and orlyandico's bacon!

You earned it based on the posts I have seen!


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5940929 - 06/26/13 06:13 AM

Well Andrew you can search for yourself regarding the LX80. Mkofski even got a petition together to send a "class action complaint letter" to Meade about the LX80.

You know.. It's not a conspiracy if its true.

But I will leave that research to you. I'm sure with your impressive CV you are a very smart man. If you choose to read the feedback differently, feel free.

My opinion is only that. Same as yours.


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5940931 - 06/26/13 06:17 AM

Gday Frank

Quote:

A "PulseGuide" by itself wouldn't work if the mount is in fact trying to keep itself centered on a particular ra/dec location - but theoretically a GoTo to a random location within about 5" could work - as long as it really can point, and not just guide, at that level of precision.




As far as i can tell, the starlock doesnt try to keep a particular RA/DEC centred, it simply guides on a selected star in its narrowfield camera image, "after" it is told to target a star and guide.
Soooo, for dithering, ASCOM type "nudges" are useless as they do very crude slews, but if a semi precise pulseguide was used to move the FOV for the purposes of dithering, the Starlock would just disengage for the move, then reengage and detect a star to guide on "in the new FOV", all without anything other than the pulseguide commands being sent.
Ie ( if i understand it correctly ) it doesnt "appear" to care where it is when guiding, it just looks at the current starfield when told to, picks a guide star and guides.
Whilst this doesnt appear to allow precise/absolute pixel based dithering using snake/spiral/lineal etc mechanisms, it would appear to allow a basic dithering mechanism to be used.
Dunno, but seems semi possiblle.

Andrew


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5940932 - 06/26/13 06:18 AM

Quote:

1) I don't really see the relevance of spacetravelerx/Andrew relentlessly bringing up his satellite day job as if it lends greater weight to his opinions.

2) the reason I didn't respond to the LX80 query is.. Have you read the feedback on that thing? Plastic gears, inability to track in polar mode, tripod hubs that crack and dump your scope..... I wouldn't get one even if Meade gave them away.

The celestron avx and ioptron azeq25 are both better uses of $1000 odd than Meade's LX80.





Alright, no Bacon for you too...

Actually it feels like my day job goes into the night...

I have seen the Feedback on the LX80, however
-- Meade does have a knack for changing things unexpectedly (sometimes, just subtle, small changes)
-- LX80 does seem to be selling still
-- I have not seen any recent complaints about the LX80
-- I saw one recently, though was only able to play it for a moment.

So the question stands...any subtle changes? Folks seem happy with it lately.

Yes, I am considering the iOptron azeq25 and SmartEQ Pro as the light weight grab and go too.


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5940939 - 06/26/13 06:25 AM

Quote:

Well Andrew you can search for yourself regarding the LX80. Mkofski even got a petition together to send a "class action complaint letter" to Meade about the LX80.

You know.. It's not a conspiracy if its true.

But I will leave that research to you. I'm sure with your impressive CV you are a very smart man. If you choose to read the feedback differently, feel free.

My opinion is only that. Same as yours.





Um, I have been searching...and have read all the drama of the LX80, the letter, etc. And talk of the mount changing...and talk of a new and improved LX85...and...

But, like I said, sometimes these products have a knack of evolving.

A simple example, the LX850 I received had some subtle differences from others. Is this happening to the LX80? No complaints lately and they are selling near as I can tell. The only way to gauge this is:

* Call dealers
* See the trends on the message board
* Go to star parties and see a line up, maybe

What is the inside skinny?


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freestar8n
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5941018 - 06/26/13 08:21 AM

Quote:

but if a semi precise pulseguide was used to move the FOV for the purposes of dithering, the Starlock would just disengage for the move, then reengage and detect a star to guide on "in the new FOV", all without anything other than the pulseguide commands being sent.




This is getting off topic but it is interesting and ultimately relevant to the new GEM technology for imaging - so I'll reply but I think we are winding up.

I can see starlock letting a pulseguide command come in - but normally it would just be telling one of the motors to pulse for a certain duration at the guide rate. When it is over, starlock would get back to the job at hand, which is placing the centroid of the star at the original x,y location at which it was told to "guide." I'd be surprised if an incoming pulseguide command caused the mount to move, and then the resulting destination would be the new x,y guide location - because then external pulseguides could not really be used for guide corrections. On the other hand, external *slew* commands should behave exactly in this manner, and cause guiding to happen wherever it lands - I think.

So you may well be right that it works the way you say it does with pulseguides. Even if it doesn't, I expect with some work the whole thing could be made to dither. But right now I don't think it can dither in a useful way out of the box with typical imaging software.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5941044 - 06/26/13 08:39 AM

Frank, I think you're right. A blind pulse guide would probably not move the guide star outside the guiding bounding box... So after the external guide command star lock would happily bring the star back to Center. No dithering for you..

Also the star lock guide scope is long and the chip tiny. A long pulse guide might move the star off chip. And if you were in a star poor region you may not get a new star...


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5941223 - 06/26/13 10:55 AM

Andrew,

Now you're knowingly issuing disinformation. We both know what is going on with Meade, and putting out posts claiming some secret product evolution is going on while they are in the midst of getting sold is completely unhelpful. You know dman well nothing of the sort could be happening, now. At best, your claim will undermine the efforts of whoever ends up taking over the company by creating confusion in the user community as to what products they have worked on and if there are half-fixes floating around to look out for.

The prospective buyers we have heard from have a triage plan and paths for major products.

As for the satellite mentions, I tend to wonder about that- anyone working in that area in the US usually knows to keep their mouth shut about their day job because of ITAR.

-Rich

Quote:

Quote:

Well Andrew you can search for yourself regarding the LX80. Mkofski even got a petition together to send a "class action complaint letter" to Meade about the LX80.

You know.. It's not a conspiracy if its true.

But I will leave that research to you. I'm sure with your impressive CV you are a very smart man. If you choose to read the feedback differently, feel free.

My opinion is only that. Same as yours.





Um, I have been searching...and have read all the drama of the LX80, the letter, etc. And talk of the mount changing...and talk of a new and improved LX85...and...

But, like I said, sometimes these products have a knack of evolving.

A simple example, the LX850 I received had some subtle differences from others. Is this happening to the LX80? No complaints lately and they are selling near as I can tell. The only way to gauge this is:

* Call dealers
* See the trends on the message board
* Go to star parties and see a line up, maybe

What is the inside skinny?




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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5941289 - 06/26/13 11:30 AM

Quote:

Andrew,

Now you're knowingly issuing disinformation. We both know what is going on with Meade, and putting out posts claiming some secret product evolution is going on while they are in the midst of getting sold is completely unhelpful. You know dman well nothing of the sort could be happening, now. At best, your claim will undermine the efforts of whoever ends up taking over the company by creating confusion in the user community as to what products they have worked on and if there are half-fixes floating around to look out for.

The prospective buyers we have heard from have a triage plan and paths for major products.

As for the satellite mentions, I tend to wonder about that- anyone working in that area in the US usually knows to keep their mouth shut about their day job because of ITAR.

-Rich

Quote:



No bacon for a year now for you young man.

I am issuing disinformation? Another simple example - some folks (I think the rebuilt LX850s), their mount heads were a different color than mine and they did not have the attached compass/bubble level. Mine did. Subtle changes. I have no clue as to what is going on internally at Meade right now. I do know they are taking orders and building things still. But I know nothing more.

Do you have the inside knowledge? You seem like an insider at Meade or have some extra special knowledge. Or worse...you are a bacon hater.

I have to keep my mouth shut about my day job? Never got the memo dude. I guess this very public tour I am on, and the related speaking engagements need to be cancelled...STAT! Papers...stop the presses! The publicizing of open source software for satellites, approved by the government? I guess they are very confused?!?!? Please don't lecture me about ITAR. Trust me, everything is cleared by legal and the U.S. Government has knowledge of everything I do. I am VERY familiar with ITAR and the dos and don'ts.

Sheesh, what a....

(Andrew keep calm, no name calling. Ignore him...he will just go away...la la la la).

So the conclusion is - LX80 has not changed at all per Rich?

In other news, I need to review the boards on the iOptron ZEQ25. I might have some questions there (but not for here!). It would be nice to see Meade go into the light grab and go universe. Thinking about the PST, the Canon 60Da, and the 80mm 6000 Series ED APO I want to put to use in the field (e.g. Chaco Canyon, White Sands etc).

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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5941313 - 06/26/13 11:46 AM

I have to agree with Rich here.

While we are all free to speculate, Andrew hints that there are ongoing product improvements, etc. That is unhelpful, and potentially misleading, and implies a silver lining to Meade's tale which may not exist (and in the meantime some people might buy Meade products based on this positive speculation and end up disappointed). At worst it looks like an attempt to condition the community's perception of Meade.

An alternative explanation as to why LX850's are slightly different is that - Meade is doing field remediation on units that are going out there.


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5941467 - 06/26/13 01:51 PM

Andrew,

Suggesting a company be allowed to speak for itself doesn't require insider knowledge.

The fact the LX850s vary in appearance and functionality is a symptom of something else familiar to anyone who knows the Optical Techniques Quantum story.

Inventing rumors on the fly can't possibly help this situation. Someone who runs a business, such as yourself, should immediately be able to see it wouldn't help if people were spreading the story your products were developing in directions they weren't, or were being held for a new version when they weren't, or you were issuing many uncontrolled versions of a product when you weren't. As obvious as that is, I have to wonder if you are, in fact, completely aware of the problems this causes and are happy to instigate them.

Then again, you seem to be oblivious to other realities, so maybe this is all new to you as well.

These stories you're inventing are seriously uncool. The disengenuous reports on other products and their performance are equally uncool.

-Rich


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5941990 - 06/26/13 07:06 PM

Gday Frank

Quote:

I can see starlock letting a pulseguide command come in - but normally it would just be telling one of the motors to pulse for a certain duration at the guide rate.




Just for info, there are 2 possible modes that can get used for "guiding"
1) Move at guide rate for a set time
2) Convert the guide/move request to an equivalent encoder count and adjust by that amount very "rapidly"
Method 2 is mainly used in the 497 firmwares, ( where an :Mgs2000# actually takes about 100ms to complete ) but it is still in the LX200/600/850 code so could probably be used for this purpose

Quote:

When it is over, starlock would get back to the job at hand, which is placing the centroid of the star at the original x,y location at which it was told to "guide."




This is where i think we differ, there doesnt appear to be an "original x,y" location.
If any "slew" or "guide" command comes in, ( ie via handbox, ST4, :Mx#, :Mgxddd# )
the system first calls a very specific routine to handle doing a "move".
The very first part of this process checks if the move is an :Mg command from Starlock.
If not, the scope tells Starlock to go idle, ( ie stop guiding ).
The move request, be it a guide or slew is then done.
The system then tells starlock to start guiding on the "new" starfield it can "now" see.
There are NO coords sent to Starlock to "guide" on, it just appears to pick a star and keep it in place.

It would be a simple test for someone to confirm the mechanism.
( Reality always trumps theory )


Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5942182 - 06/26/13 09:36 PM

...

Edited by bilgebay (06/27/13 08:45 AM)


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Mike7Mak
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? *DELETED* new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5942242 - 06/26/13 10:26 PM

Post deleted by Mike7Mak

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galaxy_jason
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5942288 - 06/26/13 10:58 PM

Andrew is correct. Any move command via hand box or ASCOM causes starlock to search for a new star, draw a new guide box and begin guiding from that point.

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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: galaxy_jason]
      #5942298 - 06/26/13 11:04 PM

Jason, by "move" does that also apply to pulse guide commands? or only to slew commands? and for this scheme to work with dithering, what's the acquire/guide/settle time for Starlock whenever it has to reacquire a guide star?

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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5942343 - 06/26/13 11:48 PM

Gday Andy

Quote:

by "move" does that also apply to pulse guide commands? or only to slew commands?




It is ANY command that invokes a non tracking motor adjust.
( That is absolutely crystal clear in the code )
As per before, ANY motor rate adjust command coming in
that isnt an :Mg pulseguide command direct from Starlock
seems to disable StarLock.
I cant speak to the settle time afterwards, but there are new serial commands that can be used to tell what the Starlock status is, so in theory, if manual dithering is being done using pulseguide commands, the script doing it could possibly poll the scope to wait until the reacquire has happened, then start the sub.
Again, you cannot get a pixel precise dither pattern with this setup, but you do appear to be able to do random small moves to simulate basic dithering, without Starlock dragging you back to an arbitrary spot.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5942525 - 06/27/13 04:51 AM

Hi Andrew (Johansen)-

That sounds fine - I wasn't disagreeing with you - I was just guessing that pulseguides won't change the "home" position of the guiding - but if they do there may be good reason for it. And if you see that in the code - that's good enough for me.

I think no matter how they do it they can expose things to make dithering possible - but it still has to be controlled by the imaging software, between exposures.

As an aside - the basic functionality here is designed into MetaGuide when used with a guidescope. As long as you can expect a guidestar to land in the view of the guidescope, which should happen with a decent video camera and a shortish guidescope, you can just point the scope anywhere, say "guide", and it will find the best guidestar in view and begin guiding on it without externally specifying which star or what x,y. If you want to move, the app can just stop guiding, move the scope, and resume guiding using a new star and its new x,y location. If you want to dither between exposures, you just issue the dither command and MG will maintain the home location and randomly move about that point.

The stopping of guiding on a slew command isn't automatic, but whatever app initiated the slew can itself tell MG to stop guiding, then resume guiding - and the finding of a guidestar is all automatic.

Frank


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cn register 5
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5942536 - 06/27/13 05:09 AM

Is there any external control software for the LX850? Something that can help applications manage it's more sophisticated behaviour? Or at least a published protocol?

AIUI the ASCOM drivers do not handle any of this and have not been upgraded for some years so only support the basic scope control, maybe not much more than reading and setting the position.

My impression is that nothing exists and Meade have not published the protocol. Andrew J has done a wonderful job in decoding the Meade binaries, extracting information and patching the drivers but that's not really the same.

Serious astronomers with observatories will need this sort of information, so will the high end observatory control application developers.

Chris


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5942600 - 06/27/13 07:28 AM

Gday Chris

Quote:

Is there any external control software for the LX850? Something that can help applications manage it's more sophisticated behaviour? Or at least a published protocol?




Not that i know of, as the new protocols havent been published by Meade.
There are a whole new set of serial commands that are specific to Starlock,
but there are also a whole lot of new ones that should be published for users to allow them to use the new functions like dome slaving delays, and starlock status etc. Not sure what Meade will do there.

Quote:

AIUI the ASCOM drivers do not handle any of this and have not been upgraded for some years so only support the basic scope control, maybe not much more than reading and setting the position.




The current ASCOM drivers dont handle many of the recent firmwares

Some people have noted that they have heard that ASCOM drivers are being written for the new firmwares,
( i have my doubts there based on history )
but the std ASCOM interface is severely limited in what it deems "standard" and hence wouldnt allow a lot of the new functions to be handled in a std manner.
Any driver written would need a lot of specific bypass code to handle the new functionality.
Ie you would probably be better off leaving the complications of ASCOM out of the mix and just writing your own commands.

Quote:

maybe not much more than reading and setting the position.




You dont want to go there

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5942626 - 06/27/13 08:12 AM




Mike,

I understand and it is a two edge sword regarding buying products under the current conditions at Meade. And in this modern age, things are more exacerbated - word on the internet gets around VERY fast regarding good or bad news. If this was happening in the 70s, not as many folks would likely have been aware of company "X's" issues and would merrily purchase away.

If all purchasing stops, then clearly Meade has no cash flow and then Meade is finished. On the flip side of course, if one purchases an expensive system and it goes kaput and Meade closes down, then you are stuck with something you would have to fix on your own, though on older telescopes this seems common.

I guess for those who want to see Meade continue in operations or if you are just comfortable purchasing Meade products or want a Meade Product, then I would say purchase away, but I would agree there are risks, depending on the product. And the buyer would need to understand those risks.

I am curious, when Celestron went through the drama of bankruptcy what happened on the buying front. Did folks stay away during the process? I have to believe the message boards were lit up (internet was around then last I knew).

Edited by bilgebay (06/27/13 04:33 PM)


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5942650 - 06/27/13 08:30 AM

Quote:

Is there any external control software for the LX850? Something that can help applications manage it's more sophisticated behaviour? Or at least a published protocol?

AIUI the ASCOM drivers do not handle any of this and have not been upgraded for some years so only support the basic scope control, maybe not much more than reading and setting the position.

My impression is that nothing exists and Meade have not published the protocol. Andrew J has done a wonderful job in decoding the Meade binaries, extracting information and patching the drivers but that's not really the same.

Serious astronomers with observatories will need this sort of information, so will the high end observatory control application developers.

Chris





Chris,

I cannot speak for all software of course, however SkySafari/SkyFi can in fact control the LX850. So I can in fact verify at least one application can externally control the LX850. My guess (and I am not an expert on this), is the LX200 command set works with the LX850.

In the "settings" for SkySafari you tell it you have a "Meade LX-200 Classic" and the Mount Type "Equitorial GoTo (German)".

Basically you pick your object, HPP/Starlock does its thing, and you taken right to where you want to go.

So my guess is, if Southern Stars can do it, there is some flexibility communicating with the LX850.

I will be researching the observatory control end fairly soon since I am putting one up. I will let you know what I find out on that front.


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cn register 5
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5942685 - 06/27/13 08:51 AM

Quote:

I am curious, when Celestron went through the drama of bankruptcy what happened on the buying front. Did folks stay away during the process? I have to believe the message boards were lit up (internet was around then last I knew).



I'm not an expert but I suspect that Celestron never formally went bankrupt.

Their parent company, Tasco, went bankrupt; that was before my time but I get the impression there was none of this drama. This may be because Celestron was a private company and it was it's parent that went under. I think the administrators sold it as a going concern and that was it.

The takeover by Synta also seems to have been a private sale and happened with no bankruptcy and no drama.

Chris


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rmollise
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5942777 - 06/27/13 09:49 AM

Celestron was owned by Tasco, who most assuredly did declare bankruptcy.

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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5942823 - 06/27/13 10:15 AM

Quote:

While we are all free to speculate, Andrew hints that there are ongoing product improvements, etc. That is unhelpful, and potentially misleading,




Why the accusations of bad faith? He didn't "hint" or "speculate"; he mentioned a previously-discussed production change that certainly happened. I spotted it right away in the photos he published of his mount. Those less familiar with the mount might not have noticed, but once he pointed it out it would have been obvious to anyone interested. Nothing misleading about it; it happened. There's no use pretending it didn't and attempting to suppress that information.

p.s. I am informed that Meade will be offering the updated elevation fork parts being used in current production as an optional upgrade kit for those with earlier production units.


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5942926 - 06/27/13 11:13 AM

I see what I have written comes across more strongly than I meant it to. I apologize for any hurt feelings that caused. I should explain myself better since my opinion is formed by other information and it's impossible for someone else to know that background, and it's unfair to hold that against anyone.

In the case of Celestron, they were bought by people at the company, first. One major difference is everything involved was privately held, so the interminable gotchas of being public never showed up. They didn't have years of quarterly reports filed for people to look up and see a slow slide turning into going off a cliff. They were also free of the mindless pressure the open market applies to just grow a business, no matter what it takes, and the hamstringing by shareholder second guessing or bid acceptance just weren't a problem. They could pick an optimum size for the operation and stay there without having their stockholders revolt. In fact, they could decide whatever they wanted and do it in an afternoon.

At the same time, the freedom to engage the market any way they saw fit is an enormous advantage. Amateurs tend to assume the battles are won and lost at the high-end of the product line. But the area under the sales volume vs cost curve belongs to the 60mm department store scopes. My understanding now is Meade never had a drop in high-end sales; it was gearing up for mass sales which could not be executed in sufficient volume which swamped them. So, the Celestron NexStar 102GT showing up at Costco for $200 the past two Octobers comes across very differently knowing that, doesn't it? I even asked a Celestron rep at ASAE how the heck they were selling them for that when the little GOTO mount alone sold for $279. I just got a smile in reply.

When I looked at becoming a dealer a couple years ago, I got the price lists from several major primes and was working out what to sell. I had gone into this thinking I could have a little home business where I only dealt in the high end scopes (the stuff I like, and the sort of people I'd rather be talking to on the phone) and on the order of a few evenings a week looking after shipping, I could have a little sideline.

But when I got the data into a spreadsheet, it told me this would be impossible because the margins on the big scopes, nice mounts, and APOs are 10% or less. So, the approximate 40% margin needed to make this profitable was running smack into a reality where the overhead costs could maybe break even, but if basically every nickel earned would go to UPS.

What did have healthy margins were things like 60mm refractors and eyepieces, which did get to the 40% needed to make them possibly profitable. However, the problem here was the prices were so low, I'd have to be processing thousands of orders a week and shipping trainloads of them for this to make any money. And if there was any rate of customer dissatisfaction, this was going to be a trip through hell. That was precisely what I was not prepared to or interested in doing.

But what I hope my explanation is good enough to show is the conventional dealer network is supported by large volumes of sales in areas the CN user base isn't strongly interested in. Success or failure of the high end gear isn't the business.

Alternatively, this explains why a high end-only prime like Astro Physics is so extremely different; they're basically unprepared to support a conventional dealer network. They have to do space flight hardware levels of equipment checkout before shipping because any measurable failure rate would overwhelm them immediately. It is no accident high end gear of this type from firms like RC optical has literally been able to be directly adapted for space flight without the horrible trail of QA discovery a commercial product maker faces in that transition. Ultimately, this is because the margins in the high end stuff are thin.

This is why it really doesn't matter for Meade to have a couple more LX80s or LX850s out there to consume support efforts. They're the lowest margin products the company has. What they needed was to sell $20 million/ quarter worth of little "Department store" scopes.

And if no outrageously inexpensive beginner's dream scope shows up at Costco from Celestron this fall, we'll know what has really happened, here.

The bigger problem I have is turning learning something like this into a business is, itself, hard to do. One might imagine the thing to do is try to become Roland's or Yuri's protégé, but the reality is quite different- what you really have to do is everything. And you have only one choice: go commercial (whose constraints are daunting), or decide to be small and do something you really love because you'll have to master it.

-Rich


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Calypte
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5943082 - 06/27/13 01:04 PM

Great post, Rich. What you say is in line with what I've heard elsewhere for many years. Did you run into a reality check on the number of pieces you'd have to buy upfront to get going? Or, as you envisioned it, was it all going to be drop-shipped? A few years ago I got a whim that I'd like to be the N.A. representative of a line of eyepieces that I liked but that had recently been discontinued. I'd start them up again and have fun selling eyepieces and going to NEAF, WSP, etc., and going to fancy restaurants with Al Nagler & Roland Christen. Reality check: it was going to require a big chunk of my own net worth to get it going. Maybe if I were 30, I'd have the energy and fearlessness to take the leap, but not in my 60s.

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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Calypte]
      #5943156 - 06/27/13 01:55 PM

I had several reality checks:

There was a minimum sales/ year which seemed like a fairly low number. But if you went to anything higher, you were then required to sell the low margin expensive stuff. So, quite literally the total value of inventory I'd have to process would go way up, while the marginal value of sales would dive.

So, even if I notionally was making a go of it with the small stuff, the moment it became enough money to care about, I'd be hit with having to sell the big ones as well.

Or to put it in numbers, buying $200k worth of stuff/ year would earn maybe $50K, and I'd see at least half of that go to overhead and shipping unless I could get the prime to agree to drop ship heavy stuff in the first place. Of course, to do that would mean I had to leave my regular job and this was all I was doing. But as you can see, it wouldn't be like I was making a living where I could support my little kids at that point. So, it's just impossible to see how I'd do it.

That's why I have a lot of respect for the good dealers- they're obviously doing it as a labor of love.

-Rich


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5943175 - 06/27/13 02:02 PM

or.... their firearms business subsidizes the telescope side of things

On a similar topic, I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations on what it would take to rival AP.

It's not possible. as various challengers such as William Optics (GT-1) and Morningcalm have discovered.

Hard as it might seem to believe, AP and SB prices are already as low as they can be and still keep AP and SB in business. I think anyone who wants to get into the mount business would need several hundred K (or millions) worth of CNC equipment, and then refine their design for manufacturability. It also helps to have decades of experience building mounts, because you know the best way to do things and not waste time re-inventing the wheel.

This is why AP and SB have such long product lifespans - there's a huge up-front cost to build the tooling and jigs.

And us random amateurs have absolutely no hope of matching AP or SB in terms of mount quality. If you have a lathe and mill, you can give it a try - but in terms of time & materials your mount will end up vastly more expensive than the commercial offerings.

This is also why we should have a lot of respect for the Chinese who have brought the prices down. Sure their mounts have numerous flaws - but who can deliver at these prices? the Japanese sure can't..


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5943205 - 06/27/13 02:25 PM

My understanding is not analyzing the above is why most entrepreneurial efforts are a once in a lifetime shot which ends in disaster.

Wow is making it work well hard to do.

-Rich


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WadeH237
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5943267 - 06/27/13 03:03 PM

Quote:

I should explain myself better since my opinion is formed by other information and it's impossible for someone else to know that background, and it's unfair to hold that against anyone.

-Rich




Thanks very much for this post!

It's great to see a well-informed and informative post on one of these Meade threads. It has confirmed some of my understanding about how this market works. I'd heard somewhere that the lifeblood of these companies is this department store scopes, but never substantiated it.

This post, and the subsequent conversation are a nice change of pace.

-Wade


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Calypte
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5943280 - 06/27/13 03:10 PM

Quote:

I had several reality checks:

There was a minimum sales/ year which seemed like a fairly low number. But if you went to anything higher, you were then required to sell the low margin expensive stuff. So, quite literally the total value of inventory I'd have to process would go way up, while the marginal value of sales would dive...etc.



An acquaintance makes telescopes (dobs). It's a brand everyone here would recognize. When he became a Meade dealer (this was 10 years ago), he discovered that he'd be required to have a physical storefront. He did as required; he was almost never there.


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Calypte]
      #5943376 - 06/27/13 04:22 PM

One of the ones I talked to said, "Gee, we already have two shops in Tucson, but none in Phoenix. Why don't you consider starting one up in Phoenix?" It's forecast to be 113°F (45°C) here tomorrow. The forecast for Phoenix is 121°F (50°C). So, even though it is the size of Philadelphia, it's not really a move I'm excited about.

-Rich


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5943633 - 06/27/13 07:02 PM

Gday Andrew

Quote:

My guess (and I am not an expert on this), is the LX200 command set works with the LX850.





Other than a few bugs still in the system, i fully agree that "basic stuff" like select a target and slew to it is covered. ie a small subset of the available serial commad set.

This bit
Quote:

Something that can help applications manage it's more sophisticated behaviour?




was the more important part of the question .

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5944052 - 06/28/13 12:03 AM

Quote:

Gday Andrew

Quote:

My guess (and I am not an expert on this), is the LX200 command set works with the LX850.





Other than a few bugs still in the system, i fully agree that "basic stuff" like select a target and slew to it is covered. ie a small subset of the available serial commad set.

This bit
Quote:

Something that can help applications manage it's more sophisticated behaviour?




was the more important part of the question .

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia




Yes, very true, very true!

I am not an expert on all the nuances requested out there. Of course we just had the long discussion on dithering. I guess another one on the list is observatory control and having the dome in sync with the LX850. Though I wonder if that would be relatively simple to do.

Remote operation of the LX850 should be doable now.

What would be the top three items folks would want to see in the more sophisticated behaviour department? Certainly there is the generic request for ASCOM, but what would be the more sophisticated control functions requested?


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5944068 - 06/28/13 12:17 AM

I think to be truly observatory capable, it must be script-able in TheSkyX (therefore have a driver) and/or have a native driver for MaximDL. I know if you have a separate dome, Maxim can control that, so no need for the 850 to worry about dome control.

I would say that an ASCOM driver is insufficient, because ASCOM doesn't expose all the functionality.

This can't be too hard - both AP and Losmandy use LX200 command set (with their own extensions) so I can't see why this would not be the case here.


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5944140 - 06/28/13 01:42 AM

Gday Andy

Quote:

I know if you have a separate dome, Maxim can control that, so no need for the 850 to worry about dome control.




Not so sure there ( or how well it will play ), but this is real grey area at present.
I can see the LX850/600 code has a new function called "Dome Delay" which allows a settling time after a slew before Starlock will attempt to find a guide star.
However in Hi Precision mode, the telescope selects its own bright star and slews to it first, then centres and synchs, before going to the real target. As far as i can tell, there are serial commands to find out what that star is, but they have to be called in a smart manner.
Sooo, How is the dome controlled in this process.
Ie does Maxim/whatever start a slew, then in parallel, tell the dome to go to that spot,
or does it slave the dome to the scope all the way ???
If it just goes to a final spot based on target RA/DEC, Starlock wont work on the intermediate star???
Just something to watch for.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

PS on rereading the earlier post, i think limiting the mechanisms to say Maxim and the SkyX leaves a helluva lot of other options floating. Its gotta be simple and available to all.



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cn register 5
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5944248 - 06/28/13 06:05 AM

The purpose of an ASCOM driver is to hide the mount specific behaviour from applications and provide a standard interface that applications can use with any mount.

There's room for all sorts of creative work in an ASCOM driver. It need not be a straight translation of the serial commands the mount provides but could handle a lot of the sophisticated LX850 behaviour, presenting a simpler interface to the controlling application. For example if the scope slews to a bright star and gets an accurate position first before going to the target this could all be hidden in the driver. All the application does is send a slew to position command and waits for the mount to report it's reached it. Meanwhile the mount has gone to a bright star, centred it, moved to the target position, resumed guiding and only reported that it's ready when guiding is active.

The ASCOM setup dialog could handle the LX850 specific setup things.

A truly remote operation would probably also need a more comprehensive setup program that could be used remotely with something like remote desktop.

A dome control program, such as POTH, reads the mount position and moves to make that position clear to the scope so there's no obvious reason why the scope going to a target via another position should have problems.

Chris


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5945308 - 06/28/13 06:06 PM

Gday Chris

Quote:

The purpose of an ASCOM driver is to hide the mount specific behaviour from applications and provide a standard interface that applications can use with any mount.





Fully understood,
Anything can be done in a standalone driver interface dialog box, but if a lot of it has to be done in "passthrough mode", then its not "standard" to other applications, as its not in the defined interface.

Quote:

For example if the scope slews to a bright star and gets an accurate position first before going to the target this could all be hidden in the driver.




So how does a driver know this, or are you proposing to turn off Hi Precision mode all the time, and copy the logic into the driver ??? ( As the LX850 code has currently mapped regions of sky to specific bright stars for its processing )
Also, i would need to check, but i dont think the "autocentre" functions are used if the target location itself is a "bright star",
so doing an intermediate centre and synch "may" have to be done manually if this was done as a 2 stage process.

Quote:

The ASCOM setup dialog could handle the LX850 specific setup things.




As i noted above, anything is possible, but not probable based on history ( ie RCX driver ).
ASCOM cant even update their current drivers to recognise the later models by name, let alone do anything complex.
Someone has posted that a specific driver is being written ( under Meade sponsorship ), so lets hope it covers all of this ( they get it right ).

Quote:

A dome control program, such as POTH, reads the mount position and moves to make that position clear to the scope so there's no obvious reason why the scope going to a target via another position should have problems.




The only query i have here is how POTH/etc knows to start/stop moving and how the scope knows when the dome is stable at the intermediate point, as everything is done by the scope automatically now, vs a human looking at a platesolve or video feed and hitting a button.
The scope wont declare a HiPrec slew done till the second part is completed, so a mechanism is needed to cater for the intermediate centre on the bright star. It may well be possible, but i dont see how ( at present ), hence my query on how ALL dome mechanisms work.
Again, time will tell.
Just put this up for thought

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5945831 - 06/28/13 11:44 PM

i was going to mention that "most" amateur domes i've read of are not steerable, they just open up (or are not domes at all, rather roll-offs - hey if it's good enough for GRAS...) these would be the less expensive domes. the intermediate pointing of the 850 would not be an issue for these types of domes.

OTOH the domes with a rotating shutter would be higher end and definitely this would be an issue. however i would hazard that people with these types of domes wouldn't be using 850s....


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5945843 - 06/29/13 12:49 AM

Quote:

i was going to mention that "most" amateur domes i've read of are not steerable, they just open up (or are not domes at all, rather roll-offs - hey if it's good enough for GRAS...) these would be the less expensive domes. the intermediate pointing of the 850 would not be an issue for these types of domes.

OTOH the domes with a rotating shutter would be higher end and definitely this would be an issue. however i would hazard that people with these types of domes wouldn't be using 850s....




orlyandico - You do hazard incorrectly. I will in fact be purchasing and installing the higher end dome (actually complete building) and it will in fact be housing the LX850 (And Macintosh Pros, ethernet, wifi, various sensors, etc, etc). Once this ramps up, I will be documenting how this effort goes. I really hope to go with a live video link through our company's servers. As they say, stay tuned!


Andrew - yes, when the object is bright the LX850 just zero's in on the star itself. It does not hop to another object first. I do not know what the limiting magnitude is, but it seems low. Objects are always dead center.


And trust me folks, if I had just a couple more years I would just purchase Meade and be done with this game. But alas, it was not meant to be. Like I said in an earlier message board, I would keep the Mexican operations, move the rest to New Mexico, work with the various suppliers and go "Bar Rescue" (a TV show) on the operation. There is definitely some significant IP to work with there and I do think the brand name carries some weight. I have other ideas with the purchase, which I am not comfortable sharing here for the moment, but I think I could make a penny or two off of Meade (no sense losing money), and work to create a holistic and happy Amateur community. Heck, kind of like the olden' days! Oh, and I do think I could make the LX600 and LX850 the next big growth items. I would keep the LX200 too. Lot's of ideas. Unfortunately just missed the boat by a couple of years.

Plenty of ways to market this puppy. Plenty of ways.

Fun following this discussion all day long...


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5945871 - 06/29/13 01:21 AM

Gday Andy

Quote:

i was going to mention that "most" amateur domes i've read of are not steerable,




There are a lot more out there now, but my comment was specific to the query re using the LX850 with a dome in a totally remote operation.
If someone is in the dome when all the moves happen, then there is no real problem.
( There may not even be a problem with an automated dome, but i dont know enough of whats possible in a std setup, to say if the intermediate step will be a problem or not.

Quote:

hey if it's good enough for GRAS...)




They're not GRAS anymore, and down here now they only have one really BIG roof
But then again, they also have 24/7 live in attendants.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5945892 - 06/29/13 01:36 AM

Gday Andrew

Quote:

Andrew - yes, when the object is bright the LX850 just zero's in on the star itself. It does not hop to another object first. I do not know what the limiting magnitude is, but it seems low. Objects are always dead center.





I have no doubt that in Hi prec mode, with an unobstructed view, the system will work as advertised, and get targets pretty much spot on.
My only query here was a very specific one as to how it works with a fully automated dome.

As to limiting mag for Hi prec, the code mechanism is VERY different to the old LX200 code, but it appears the hi Prec star list is still roughly the same
ie about 280 stars down to mag 3.5
Soooo any stars brighter than mag 3.6 wont trigger an intermediate slew.

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5945923 - 06/29/13 02:12 AM

Andrew,

1) I would then hazard that you're in the minority, if you plan to purchase a high-end dome/building and then plonk down a $6000 mount in it. In this case the dome/building would be many times the cost of the mount.

If I were in the same situation, I'd choose a higher-end, more observatory-proven mount, such as the Software Bisque offerings. Most people I know have simple roll-offs but their mounts cost more than an 850.. but then again I don't move in your rarified circles.

2) Thank you for disclosing that you do have a current or planned fiduciary interest in Meade's future. That makes your opinions very different from those of us who have no such interest.


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cn register 5
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5945978 - 06/29/13 04:02 AM

I think a lot of domes are motorised so they follow the mount, certainly they will be for any sort of remote operation.

I've no intention of writing an ASCOM driver but if there is a reliable, stable, published, protocol I think that someone could and that they should be sponsored in some way by Meade.

I've no idea exactly how HiPrecision pointing and guiding would be integrated into a driver but the sort of thing I can think of is monitoring the state of the mount during the slew operation. For example there is, I suppose, a command that can tell if the mount is locked on a guide star or not. It may be possible to issue the slew command and then monitor the locked on a guide star state. The slew is reported as completed when the scope is locked.

Certainly not turning it off and reproducing it in the driver.

This is all moot because AIUI the protocol isn't published and doesn't seem stable.

Chris


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OzAndrewJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5945996 - 06/29/13 05:20 AM

Gday Chris

Quote:

I think a lot of domes are motorised so they follow the mount, certainly they will be for any sort of remote operation.




Yep, but they have to stop at the end of a goto and when doing subs etc.
A Hi prec goto doesnt appear to advertise the intermediate stop,
so it may need to be handled by non std methods, Dunno.

Quote:

but if there is a reliable, stable, published, protocol



Dome behaviour seems to have lots of comments re whats standard, but none i have seen so far would address the scenario we are discussing.

Quote:

For example there is, I suppose, a command that can tell if the mount is locked on a guide star or not.




There is, but when Starlock is doing an auto centre and synch operation, it is not "guiding".
Again, this is where the tight integration between Starlock and the Firmware in the scope will do a process in an efficient manner, but may not provide a mechanism to the outside world to handle unusual setups.
I cant ( currently ) see any way that you could get this info in a "timely" manner for the HiPrec star, or how you could synch what you need to do with the dome, with what the scope is doing in its own little processing world.
Maybe the driver writer will look at this and add extra commands if needed, ( or provide a workflow diag to do it ), but maybe not.
Again, dunno till someone tries it.

Quote:

The slew is reported as completed when the scope is locked.





Again, this happens "at the end" of the full slew, not on the intermediate star.
And even if you could poll the scope for its status, you still have to have the dome ready for viewing when the scope will be trying to acquire a target automatically, based on its own idea of time, not the domes.
The dome delay value will/may help here, but not sure how it works in the middle of the process.

Quote:

This is all moot because AIUI the protocol isn't published and doesn't seem stable.




I wouldnt go so far as to say the protocol is unstable. Many real world reports indicate it works well, as long as its view is not blocked

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5946067 - 06/29/13 07:38 AM

Quote:

Andrew,

1) I would then hazard that you're in the minority, if you plan to purchase a high-end dome/building and then plonk down a $6000 mount in it. In this case the dome/building would be many times the cost of the mount.

If I were in the same situation, I'd choose a higher-end, more observatory-proven mount, such as the Software Bisque offerings. Most people I know have simple roll-offs but their mounts cost more than an 850.. but then again I don't move in your rarified circles.

2) Thank you for disclosing that you do have a current or planned fiduciary interest in Meade's future. That makes your opinions very different from those of us who have no such interest.




Well, I am in the minority when it comes to the purchasing of systems over $5k. But I would not call it unusual to put a high end system, which the LX850 is, in a nice dome and practical environment. Yes, there are other mounts and OTAs that could go in a dome and that is fine, but I would think after spending greater than $10k on a very nice system one would desire a nice observatory.


And I have NO current or planned fiduciary interest in Meade at all. I merely said in two years, if all went financially well for me I would just buy Meade and be done with the game. I really do believe in Meade and the potential it offers. This is vastly different than having "current or planned fiduciary interest". There are two proposed buyers for Meade - I am staying out of that whole process. My fiduciary interest is only in relation to the products I purchase from Meade.


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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5946079 - 06/29/13 07:54 AM

Ah. I misunderstood then. Apologies.

It does look like MIT Capital has the upper, err, wallet at at this time. Which can't be good news.

Got me thinking though.. I actually possess a lot of (low end) Meade gear. My first scope was an ETX60. From what Rich said... Maybe it's impossible to have both mass market and high end products..

In retrospect, Meade brought a lot of technology to the masses, me included. I still use my two DSIs... And there is a need for that, so it would be a pity if Meade was dismembered.

On the other hand, the high end market is extremely hard to please - as shown by this thread! Among others.. As I understand some ex Celestron folks went on to found Planewave? Maybe that's what needs to happen.. Stick to the mass market, or go with the high end.


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