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csrlice12
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Problems at Meade???
      #5626139 - 01/16/13 12:49 PM

Saw in another thread an item about Meade possibly going bankrupt. Then saw this article too:
http://www.macroaxis.com/invest/ratio/MEAD--Probability_Of_Bankruptcy

Uh oh.......another one bites the dust?????


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bierbelly
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5626167 - 01/16/13 01:05 PM

I find it hard to believe that any of the lower/middle end manufacturers make enough to stay in business for long. IIRC, even Roland Christen says that his telescopes are essentially loss leaders to help sales of his mounts.

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Midnight Dan
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: bierbelly]
      #5626261 - 01/16/13 02:03 PM

If true, it's a shame. Their new mounts could have been a turn around for them, but instead turned out to be some serious missteps ... at least from what I've been reading here.

I agree that with the relative small astro-market, and the high prices for most of these mounts, it's hard to understand how any of the companies can sell enough product to make ends meet.

-Dan


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Agatha
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5626278 - 01/16/13 02:15 PM

I hope this does not mean the end of Meade. My first telescope was a Meade LX90. I will always keep it. I hope somehow things will turn around for the best.

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DHurst
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Agatha]
      #5626361 - 01/16/13 03:08 PM

In my world, Meade officially folded when the RCX debacle started. I'm surprised they lasted this long!

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CJK
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Agatha]
      #5626362 - 01/16/13 03:09 PM

It would be terrible to lose Meade -- competition keeps everyone pushing the technology forward and adds incentive to maintain quality and offer value. For personal reasons, I would feel badly also: although I never owned a Meade telescope, it was seeing those big, beautiful Meade cats in The Nature Company store that reawakened my love of astronomy.

-- Chris


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Zamboni
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: CJK]
      #5626401 - 01/16/13 03:31 PM

The RCX debacle was the beginning of the end, and was the start of a long trend of bringing utterly half-baked products to market. The launch of the LX80 and LX800 series were such catastrophic mistakes that I don't think there's any way they can recover. They released a terrible product at a high price and did wrong by a lot of customers. The LX800 especially was a nail in the coffin that they hammered in themselves.

I wouldn't be surprised if the brand gets bought out by an Asian concern like GSO or Long Perng, so the brand will probably continue, but Meade as we have long known it is probably suffering its last gasp.


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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Zamboni]
      #5626433 - 01/16/13 03:50 PM

Jeesh, rumors/stories of Meade's immanent demise have been flying around for years. It'll be a shame if it happens, I really enjoy my Meade gear, all the way from my little olde 2045S up to my shiny new Lightbridge 16. Losing a major player like Meade could not bode well for the rest of the market. There's an olde saying in business about how there's nothing worse than having an increasing share of a shrinking pie.

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Footbag
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5626465 - 01/16/13 04:02 PM

I was surprised by on part of the now missing post. One of their customers (their largest) is holding back $.6m of receivables. That either means a big retailer is going down, or is sitting on a whole lot of un-useable Meade inventory.

Either way, it's never a good thing to lose a company. You never know what you have until it's gone.


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ahopp
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5626484 - 01/16/13 04:09 PM

There was a time when people thought Apple was going the way of the Dodo Bird. Michael Dell said at the time, "What would I do? Id shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."

Look at Apple now!

So, I am not saying they will make it. I will say, I am one of the 14" LX800 recall customers and I am hanging in there, probably not the only one.

God Speed, Meade.

Tony


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Dunkstar
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: ahopp]
      #5626499 - 01/16/13 04:13 PM

And now look at Dell

Best of luck to Meade, hope they pull through.


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csrlice12
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Dunkstar]
      #5626547 - 01/16/13 04:35 PM

Hope they pull through, Meade's been a name in astronomy for a while...

As far as Apple, now that Steve's gone; it'll be pillaged by the moneychangers until all that's left is a shell, like Hostess...I estimate in 25 years, Apple will be an entry in the history books....too bad, they had a good product.


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Paul G
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5626556 - 01/16/13 04:40 PM

Quote:

I was surprised by on part of the now missing post. One of their customers (their largest) is holding back $.6m of receivables. That either means a big retailer is going down, or is sitting on a whole lot of un-useable Meade inventory.

Either way, it's never a good thing to lose a company. You never know what you have until it's gone.




Walmart is one of, if not their biggest retailers in terms of scopes sold.

It will be sad if they go away, even though some of their problems were self inflicted, because competition drives innovation. That's one reason the govt denied their request to merge with Celestron a long time ago. I wonder how a single US SCT manufacturer would have fared instead of two who spent millions on lawsuits against each other. Now there are none.


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nevy
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Paul G]
      #5626607 - 01/16/13 05:12 PM

Better keep hold of my lightbridge , it may become a collectable classic ;-)

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Paul G
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: nevy]
      #5626643 - 01/16/13 05:30 PM

Good idea! Wonder what will happen with replacement parts.

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Raginar
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: nevy]
      #5626645 - 01/16/13 05:31 PM

It would indeed be a sad day if Meade goes under. Sometimes I think there are people that hope for it because of the issues they've had. Personally, I hope they pull through and can provide us with someone else besides Celestron to rely on for scopes.

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GeneT
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5626658 - 01/16/13 05:38 PM

The possibility of Meade going bankrupt has been bantered around for several years. They still are cranking out some good products. I hope they don't go under.

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MikeBOKC
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: GeneT]
      #5626792 - 01/16/13 06:51 PM

Well bankruptcy would not necessarily mean they would disappear. There are forms of business bankruptcy that allow a company to reorganize while holding debts in abeyance, and sometimes they emerge stronger. Or a bankruptcy could result in a selloff of the various product lines (I could see Explore Scientific, for example, acquiring and reissuing Meade's scope line or parts thereof.) Just too early to say, and as one who has owned and still uses some Meade products, I hope for the best. Luckily the supply chain runs downward from manufacturer to dealer to customer, so it would not appear that Meade dealers would be jeopardized, unless they had passed a lot of money for orders up to Meade and would be on the hook for refunds.

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starrancher
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: GeneT]
      #5626801 - 01/16/13 06:58 PM

It threw me for a loop when Meade dropped the LXD75 series . These were a variety of optical designs that were available to the enthusiast that couldn't afford an arm and a leg to get into the hobby with decent aperture and go to capabilities . The 8 inch SCT , the 6 to 10 inch SNT and the 5 and 6 inch achromats were all nice setups for the money and I thought were popular sellers . Heck you can't even get an achromat from Meade anymore other than the toy models they sell . The AR5 and AR6 were pretty darn good achromats . The Schmidt Newts had great optics and the 8 inch SCT was an awesome tube . All on an EQ go to mount . Now where are the EQ mounts ? Not from Meade ! Meanwhile , Celestron runs with the ball and puts out a number of choices in the go to EQ realm leaving Meade in the dust . Celestron still putting out a variety of decent apertured achromats for the refractor enthusiast . It just doesn't compute as a marketing strategy and seems a suicide attempt on Meades part . What a bunch of goofballs .

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mikey cee
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5626822 - 01/16/13 07:21 PM

Mike

Edited by tecmage (01/16/13 09:12 PM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5626933 - 01/16/13 08:15 PM

Quote:


Well bankruptcy would not necessarily mean they would disappear.






If Meade goes bankrupt, which seems likely, it is unlikely they will disappear, they will still be around but with new ownership.

My guess is that the same thing will happen to Meade that happened to Celestron, they will be owned by the Asian manufacturer who was a major supplier. In Celestron's case it is Synta Optical, in Meade's case it will likely be Jinghua Optical who also own Explore Scientific.

Jon


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Raginar
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5627062 - 01/16/13 09:37 PM

Star Rancher,

I agree completely. I wonder if they had low profit margins on those products? Maybe that would be the reason for their push to a high-end equatorial mount.

Either way, I hope they make it. Having someone besides Synta to rely on for innovation is important.


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budman1961
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Raginar]
      #5627260 - 01/17/13 12:07 AM

And we need this thread why?

Andy


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mikey cee
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: budman1961]
      #5627265 - 01/17/13 12:10 AM

Quote:

And we need this thread why?

Andy


Good ? You all shoulda' cared with your wallets.

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Joe Cipriano
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: budman1961]
      #5627306 - 01/17/13 12:45 AM

Quote:

And we need this thread why?

Andy




Anyone considering the purchase of new Meade equipment would probably want to know - if for nothing but potential customer service and warranty issues. If Meade actually does go out of business, is there any recourse for the buyer in the case of equipment problems/failures? If Meade were to be bought out by/merged with another company, will the new parent company honor Meade's warranties?

If I were in the market for new equipment, I'd certainly consider the info in this thread valuable.


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CJK
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Joe Cipriano]
      #5627438 - 01/17/13 04:56 AM

+1

It's important to remember that not everyone here has been around astronomy for years and is well-informed about this sort of issue. For some of us, this site is our only resource for information about the various companies offering equipment. Looking at Meade's beautiful ads in S&T and Astronomy, I had no idea they were in trouble. For the reasons Joe mentioned, I think it's important that threads like this exist.

Just my

-- Chris


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fuzzystuff4ever
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: CJK]
      #5627502 - 01/17/13 06:45 AM

If the government shot down Meade's attempt to buy Celestron due to monopoly concerns, maybe they can bail them out to prevent Celestron from becoming the only SCT maker. I'd rather save a telescope manufacturer than some stupid bank.

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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: fuzzystuff4ever]
      #5627628 - 01/17/13 08:45 AM

I'll never understand why Meade gutted the lower end of their line and poured money into high-end imaging gear.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: fuzzystuff4ever]
      #5627657 - 01/17/13 09:08 AM

Quote:

If the government shot down Meade's attempt to buy Celestron due to monopoly concerns, maybe they can bail them out to prevent Celestron from becoming the only SCT maker. I'd rather save a telescope manufacturer than some stupid bank.




Given that Celestron has already gone bankrupt and Meade has long been on the verge of going bankrupt, I am not quite sure how a merger would have done anything more thnan resulted in one bankruptcy instead of two.

If and when Meade goes under, someone will step in a to buy it. I am not sure if any of their stuff is made in the US anymore, I thought the final step was when they moved their SCT manufacturing facilities to Mexico ???

Jon


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EricRemy
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5627679 - 01/17/13 09:21 AM

Quote:

The AR5 and AR6 were pretty darn good achromats . The Schmidt Newts had great optics and the 8 inch SCT was an awesome tube . All on an EQ go to mount . Now where are the EQ mounts ? Not from Meade ! Meanwhile , Celestron runs with the ball and puts out a number of choices in the go to EQ realm leaving Meade in the dust . Celestron still putting out a variety of decent apertured achromats for the refractor enthusiast .




Yup, my thoughts exactly. Not everyone can afford a 5000$ setup.


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csrlice12
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: EricRemy]
      #5627694 - 01/17/13 09:31 AM

"If and when Meade goes under, someone will step in a to buy it."

Hostess went under....and nobody's bought the "Twinkies" brand......


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mikey cee
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5627852 - 01/17/13 11:13 AM

Quote:

"If and when Meade goes under, someone will step in a to buy it."

Hostess went under....and nobody's bought the "Twinkies" brand......


They will. You can count on it. Too much red tape at this stage in time. Mike

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5627886 - 01/17/13 11:29 AM

Quote:

"If and when Meade goes under, someone will step in a to buy it."

Hostess went under....and nobody's bought the "Twinkies" brand......




Celestron went under, Suzhou Synta Optical Technology Co. bought Celestron. It was a good fit since Synta had been manufacturing a good part of Celestron's product line for quite some years.

Meade looks to be in a similar situation with Jinghua, it would make sense for Jinghua to buy Meade and add it to Explore Scientific.

But bankruptcy does not mean a company disappears, it means the owners are bankrupt and most likely someone else will take it over. In the case of Hostess, it was a dispute with the bakers union that led to the situation.

Jon


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tecmageModerator
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5628046 - 01/17/13 12:52 PM

Hostess is a lot more complicated than a dispute with the unions, and it is also a lesson it what we don't want to have happen with Meade.

If Meade cannot get it's act together again, the best case scenario is another astro company stepping up and buying it. While Meade has had its problems with new lines, there needs to be a few companies that offer decent quality entry level gear at reasonable prices.


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Joe Cipriano
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: tecmage]
      #5628211 - 01/17/13 02:37 PM

Never liked Twinkies - but I do miss Ding-Dongs...



Seriously, though - Celestron seems to be doing well under Synta. We can hope that Jinghua buys Meade, with the same results.


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Awesomelenny
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Joe Cipriano]
      #5628227 - 01/17/13 02:48 PM

For what it's worth, I would hate to see Meade go under for one reason. Their 16" Forks and base are simply superb even though I had bum luck with the electronics. The tracking for me was unbelievable and the forks and base were just massive and could easily take on a load of an additionsl 40 pounds from wheat I heard and read.

Now unfortunately because of my financial predicament that I got myself into, I had to sell the whole shebang. But one of these fine days I WILL love to go back to the 16" optics again. Dang do I miss it!!!


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DrOxygen
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Awesomelenny]
      #5630118 - 01/18/13 03:31 PM

Meade - Too big to fail! We'll for astro types that is.....

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orion61

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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: DrOxygen]
      #5630214 - 01/18/13 04:24 PM

It would be a shame but they are about due for a break....
I think the lesson was learned and the 850 will be superb!I still think their tubes are the best constructed for the price.
Just think of what they have done in the past..
I'm sorry they gave up on the SN tubes. they were outstanding, mine even at high powers, nice flat well corrected field.


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Glen A W
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5630256 - 01/18/13 05:01 PM

Meade's annual reports have been publicly available. The company has had a hard time making any money. Because they did make a lot for a little while on the basis, if I recall, of the ETX-90 series, the market value of their stock was greatly inflated about ten years ago. Then, it pretty much collapsed when the earnings turned negative and it seemed they kept pinning their hopes on the next fantastic product. It was unlikely they would ever return to the late 90's levels of income.

One interesting thing I remember was that they were moving lots of product and generating great revenue in the low-end but the margin was just awful. I really doubted whether it was worth it, especially since some of those products were really negative for their image with newcomers to astronomy.

The company has not had a stable, decent business model since I have been aware of the goings on there.

They bought some riflescope manufacturers at prices that were dubious, even as the base Meade company was struggling.

I cannot recall for sure, but I believe there was a poison pill to prevent takeovers, which would have been a natural considering the very very low stock price and the fact there was some book value in the buildings and so forth. But it is unlikely this helped the shareholders at all, though I am sure it benefited those running the company who didn't get to be thrown out.

I have not been real impressed with the company's management, let me tell you. I do have a nice stock certificate to hang on the observatory wall, though. That's really all I wanted, in some sense.

GW

Edited by Glen A W (01/18/13 05:06 PM)


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Glen A W
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5630262 - 01/18/13 05:04 PM

I am not too impressed with the "probability of bankruptcy" expressed in the link in the original post. I doubt that it is any higher probability than ever. I don't know how they kept going this long, honestly.

GW


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starrancher
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Joe Cipriano]
      #5630563 - 01/18/13 08:46 PM

Quote:

Never liked Twinkies - but I do miss Ding-Dongs...




Same here ! Chocolate is the only way to go .


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JimMo
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5630766 - 01/18/13 10:57 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Never liked Twinkies - but I do miss Ding-Dongs...




Same here ! Chocolate is the only way to go .





Totally off topic, but having a business in a border town has it's advantages. One of our bread suppliers is out of Canada and AFAIK my store is one of only a few that import Hostess Twinkies and Chocolate Cupcakes from Quebec.

Back OT I hope Meade pulls through. I have an LX80 and I'm happy with mine.


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starrancher
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: DrOxygen]
      #5632602 - 01/20/13 03:15 AM

Quote:

Meade - Too big to fail!






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RealSorin
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5633277 - 01/20/13 01:50 PM

I looked at the financials just yesterday out of interest for the size of the global telescope market. Meade is definitely in bad financial shape with dwindling cash and a huge buildup of inventory. They established a new line of credit facility at the beginning of the year, which replaced a previous credit facility that looked like it was on better terms than this new one.

I expect the brand has too much value to go away, but from what I can see, the Astronomy equipment market has been and continues to be in decline.

I'm guessing the global telescope market is currently on the order of $100M in annual sales. Figure that at least 80% of that is lower-end products, which would be consistent with other industries. Meade had $17.8M in revenue over the previous 4 quarters up through Nov 2012. I haven't found any specific metrics on unit sales, but I'm guessing that higher end telescopes and mounts (costing more than ~$1000) only account for less than 10,000 global unit sales for the whole industry. That's really not a very big market.

These are back of the envelope numbers; if anyone has better information, I'd be very interested in seeing it.


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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5633474 - 01/20/13 04:02 PM

Quote:

Quote:

"If and when Meade goes under, someone will step in a to buy it."

Hostess went under....and nobody's bought the "Twinkies" brand......




Celestron went under, Suzhou Synta Optical Technology Co. bought Celestron. It was a good fit since Synta had been manufacturing a good part of Celestron's product line for quite some years.

Meade looks to be in a similar situation with Jinghua, it would make sense for Jinghua to buy Meade and add it to Explore Scientific.

But bankruptcy does not mean a company disappears, it means the owners are bankrupt and most likely someone else will take it over. In the case of Hostess, it was a dispute with the bakers union that led to the situation.

Jon



Meade severed their relationship with Jing Hua when Explore Scientific became a bigger player in the market.
None of Meade's products come from Jin Hua, now. This has been true for over a year.


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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: RealSorin]
      #5633486 - 01/20/13 04:10 PM

Quote:

I looked at the financials just yesterday out of interest for the size of the global telescope market. Meade is definitely in bad financial shape with dwindling cash and a huge buildup of inventory. They established a new line of credit facility at the beginning of the year, which replaced a previous credit facility that looked like it was on better terms than this new one.

I expect the brand has too much value to go away, but from what I can see, the Astronomy equipment market has been and continues to be in decline.

I'm guessing the global telescope market is currently on the order of $100M in annual sales. Figure that at least 80% of that is lower-end products, which would be consistent with other industries. Meade had $17.8M in revenue over the previous 4 quarters up through Nov 2012. I haven't found any specific metrics on unit sales, but I'm guessing that higher end telescopes and mounts (costing more than ~$1000) only account for less than 10,000 global unit sales for the whole industry. That's really not a very big market.

These are back of the envelope numbers; if anyone has better information, I'd be very interested in seeing it.



At their peak, Meade did 130M in sales. When they divested all their satellite businesses, they raised, per the report, about 17M in cash. It's taken a while, but they've run through the cash. Nearly all their management staff was laid off last Spring. They've been fighting tooth and claw to hang on, but the recent problems with the scopes may have been the last straw.
We'll see. I can certainly hope they hang on and recover, but it will be hard.

The world-wide annual sales are larger than your figure, but I figured years ago the global market is probably 1 million people, and probably only 150K of them would ever buy anything over $350.


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Glen A W
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5633500 - 01/20/13 04:20 PM

It is hard to imagine how small such a market is in the global sense. I have had a hard time understanding the variety of products available from all the various companies - it looks like some of them would take big bucks to develop and the payback is sometimes hard to figure. Also, the marketing these days is so slick and expensive looking. I see the newest Meade techno-wonder is going to be the Starlock. This looks like it is taking a good idea too far, in my mind.

I will be so sorry if the company goes. You know someone will get it in bankruptcy court, and it will probably be the Chinese. One thing that used to be a real thrill with these scopes was that they were quality, American made items. I'll use good equipment from anywhere, but the Chinese stuff has never had the same feel to it the old stuff did. Some of this is just the move to plastics and lightweight CNC machined parts, I suppose.

Long live Meade Instruments!

GW

Edited by Glen A W (01/20/13 04:22 PM)


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RogerRZ
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5633525 - 01/20/13 04:40 PM

Quote:

I'll use good equipment from anywhere, but the Chinese stuff has never had the same feel to it the old stuff did. Some of this is just the move to plastics and lightweight CNC machined parts, I suppose.

Long live Meade Instruments!

GW




I wish things were as they were before too, with regard to domestic manufacturing, but ask yourself, which would you rather have, a run of the mill 1987 C8/2080, or a randomly picked 2013 C8?

We didn't always put out good stuff. Asians (China) will manufacture to whatever quality standard the customer is wiling to pay for...


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Astrojensen
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5633573 - 01/20/13 05:07 PM

Quote:

One thing that used to be a real thrill with these scopes was that they were quality, American made items.




The original ETX had very good optics, but mechanically it was a near disaster. Plastic everywhere and very poor quality and design. Not good. Still, they sold a bunch of them.

But I'll miss the Lightbridges, if Meade goes under. I think this is one of the biggest "sleeper scopes" if there ever was one. For the price, these are crazy good. My 12" has really smooth motions, much better than any other dob in this price range I've tried, good enough for magnifications up to 300x. And they are so cheap that every astronomer ought to have one. For the price of a 90mm ETX, you get a 10" with a nice 2" focuser w/1:10 reducer and a nice 2" eyepiece.

I personally believe it is one of Meade's best scopes ever. Why people haven't been screaming out all over the internet how good these are is a mystery to me. Perhaps they are too simple for most people to consider them an all-time greatest product. No gee-wiz gadgets to fall in awe over, no fancy electronics, no GOTO. But they are workhorses that just plain work, night after night. Their particleboard rocker boxes do tend to sometimes fall apart after many years, but the OTAs are very well made and really strong and solid. They'll keep working for decades.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5633600 - 01/20/13 05:21 PM

Yeppers, I feel very lucky to have a Lightbridge 16 from the latest production run. This has been a fantastic scope!

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Glen A W
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5633720 - 01/20/13 06:20 PM

Roger, I have a 1988 C8 I'd take over any made today, but your point is well taken. They were also pretty expensive back then!

Thomas, I have an original American-made ETX-90. I bought it from JC Penney for around $600! It is still in the box, just like new, for exactly the reasons you describe. I was unaware of the Lightbridge, but I'll file that away in my mind.

I would like to see the company sold before things get any worse. I think it would have been taken over already if not for various provisions in their documents. The market capitalization is only a few million dollars. The real estate and intellectual property are worth far more than that. They have spent the last ten years grinding the company into the ground on no earnings. There is no reason for this. Somebody would buy it.

GW

Edited by Glen A W (01/20/13 06:20 PM)


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nytecam
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5634344 - 01/21/13 04:38 AM

Just got an email from Meade inviting me to buy a LX850 @ US$6000 [10"?] that takes 30min to setup and start imaging. Wow Don't think I'll be parting with cash to Meade

I'll stick with my obsy polar pier mounted classic 12"LX200 and image within 5min of opening door. Does anyone seriously setup to image from a tripod


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DaveJ
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: nytecam]
      #5634535 - 01/21/13 09:11 AM

Quote:

Just got an email from Meade inviting me to buy a LX850 @ US$6000 [10"?] that takes 30min to setup and start imaging. Wow Don't think I'll be parting with cash to Meade I'll stick with my obsy polar pier mounted classic 12"LX200 and image within 5min of opening door. Does anyone seriously setup to image from a tripod




Check out our club Website here and look at the images by Rick Burke, Jason Shinn and Peter Clausen. Yes, one of Peter's images was featured for several months in an SBIG ad in S&T & Astronomy magazines. All these members set up on tripods each time they image. On that same linked page, John Crilly and Lenny Marek cheat by having roll-off roof observatories and create fabulous images.


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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: DaveJ]
      #5634621 - 01/21/13 10:04 AM Attachment (28 downloads)

"Does anyone seriously setup to image from a tripod?"

Yes.


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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5634627 - 01/21/13 10:07 AM

...though I'm endlessly puzzled why Meade gutted the lower end of their product line to offer high-end imaging gear. And no, I can't imagine the LX80 being a worthwhile replacement for the LXD75. It's an interesting product, but nothing like the workhorse LXD75.

Oh well...


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A. Viegas
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5634841 - 01/21/13 12:17 PM

I started a new post over in General/Astro to discuss some turn-around ideas for saving Meade. Have a look and post your ideas!

--> Wanted: Turnaround Specialist at Meade

Al


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JeffBosworth
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5634907 - 01/21/13 12:50 PM

I have heard from a trusted source in the industry that Meade is in fact on the verge of bankruptcy. Like others, I would mourn the loss of this venerable company. Celestron was recently at CES (where was Meade?) and announced a LOT of new products, one of which is very exciting - their new SkySense unit. This item essentially does what Meade's LS scopes can do - but it has been smartly modularized so it can be used with ANY of Celestron's newer mounts. It attaches to an OTA via a finder shoe and its hand controller replaces the mounts HC. Why didn't Meade think of that? They had the LightSwitch technology built into their OTAs that couldn't be put on any other mount. Missed opportunity. Are the rumors of their bankruptcy chasing their good engineers and innovators elsewhere?

Meade needs to regroup and restore their competitive edge - if bankruptcy allows that, so be it. The industry needs to foster competition to not only sell more but to serve their customer base better, too. The supposed "limited" market in astronomy reminds me much of the "limited" private pilot market I've participated in. Any product that is labeled for aircraft use by private pilots is instantly double the price that same product would bring in a broader market. Witness things like the accessory market in astronomy - parts that cost pennies to produce overseas are inflated to $50 or $60 once the astronomy label is placed on them.

So it goes. I'll happily pay the prices as long as the goods are high quality - and work as advertised.


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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: JeffBosworth]
      #5635618 - 01/21/13 07:52 PM

Times change I guess. The Celestron we have today is not the Celestron that I oogled over oh so many years ago. Meade may morph into something else as well. Of their present product line I was really only interested in one scope, the Lightbridge 16, and I bought one of those. Everything else is either too cheapified, too cutesyfied, too expensive, or way too expensive for me. I feel very lucky to have had the resources to pick up some nice gear while they were making some pretty good affordable (for me) stuff.

Edited by jgraham (01/21/13 07:52 PM)


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rigelsys
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: JeffBosworth]
      #5635652 - 01/21/13 08:16 PM

If the astronomy market was millions of units a year, then things would be pennies apiece to produce and nickles apiece to buy. But the Astronomy market is not that big, and when one is having parts fab'd in 100 quantities or less, it's dollars to tens of dollars apiece to produce -- then add in engineering, design, labor, taxes, marketing, packaging, shipping, handling, and a small but reasonable profit each step of the distribution chain and you get to $60.

Meade's gross is something between $10-$15 million a year. In-and-out burgers makes $2 million a store ... Meade is equivalent to less than 8 burger joints! On the cosmic scale of businesses they're tiny.

I recommend that we be appreciate that small time enterpreneur's who enjoy designing, building and supplying the astronomy hobby products we all enjoy for the service they provide ... I'm always amazed at how much value we get for so few $$.



Quote:

Witness things like the accessory market in astronomy - parts that cost pennies to produce overseas are inflated to $50 or $60 once the astronomy label is placed on them.




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Steve Drapak
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5635737 - 01/21/13 09:17 PM

Quote:

I will be so sorry if the company goes. You know someone will get it in bankruptcy court, and it will probably be the Chinese. One thing that used to be a real thrill with these scopes was that they were quality, American made items. I'll use good equipment from anywhere, but the Chinese stuff has never had the same feel to it the old stuff did. Some of this is just the move to plastics and lightweight CNC machined parts, I suppose.




With luck (well, for us, not the local producers), the Chinese quality will progress like the Japanese did years ago. Though with the world economy in the shape it is now, not many people are willing to make good solid products that cost more to make.


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Steve Drapak
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: JeffBosworth]
      #5635744 - 01/21/13 09:21 PM

Quote:

I have heard from a trusted source in the industry that Meade is in fact on the verge of bankruptcy




Why don't we band together and set up a Kickstarter.com account to collect reserves and be the ones to buy Meade ourselves? Stranger things have happened at sea...


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Littlegreenman
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rigelsys]
      #5635757 - 01/21/13 09:26 PM

Add another factor: optics and metal parts last a long time. Electronics and plastic parts may or may not. What this means for astronomy is that the basic parts, the optics, metal tubes and focusers, and metal mounts and legs--wood legs too, can last a lifetime or more.
Burgers and cars need to be replenished more often.

For a telescope company, this means in the scheme of things their customers during their lifetime are only making a few purchases.

LGM


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RealSorin
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Littlegreenman]
      #5635894 - 01/21/13 10:56 PM

Even more to the point, observing is a hobby for most people. You need to eat, and you need transportation, but a telescope or new eyepiece is entirely discretionary. The industry's fortunes also rise and fall with the broader public interest in science and astronomy, in addition to macro-economic factors.

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Stew57
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Steve Drapak]
      #5636176 - 01/22/13 03:11 AM

Quote:

Why don't we band together and set up a Kickstarter.com account to collect reserves and be the ones to buy Meade ourselves? Stranger things have happened at sea...




Meade is a public company so... we could just buy a controlling interest. The risk could be greater but maybe less after a bankruptsy. It is a risky investment either way. The LX850 may turn out to be great but I can't see the LX80 doing much for the company. The LS line got a bad reputation early (deservedly so) and was too expensive at launch. One thing the meades, celestron, and orions lack is good customer service. Where are the parts list with the equipment? Sell all the parts. Be the first.


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rcdk
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Stew57]
      #5636443 - 01/22/13 09:08 AM

Put a 6" reflector in Walmart on a dob mount. If people shopping for that first telescope could actually buy something capable of keeping their interest the equipment companies would be doing much better.

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bierbelly
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5636616 - 01/22/13 10:41 AM

Quote:

I'll never understand why Meade gutted the lower end of their line and poured money into high-end imaging gear.




Profit margin v. volume. There has to be a shrinking market for astro equipment. If the volume isn't there on the low end, they had to try and compete for the bigger margin...like that was going to happen. Let's see, Meade or Astro Physics....what should I buy...?


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stratocaster
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: bierbelly]
      #5636804 - 01/22/13 12:33 PM

In my opinion Meade's issues have been a long time in the making. When I first got seriously into this hobby was back when the first ETXs came out. My first purchases were an ETX 90 astro and a 10" meade starfinder. The ETX was $599 back then with no tripod and no autostar. The starfinder was $695 with the 'deluxe' cheapo plastic 2" focuser.

As my experience with the ETX grew I realized that I needed to get a tripod - the tabletop experience and the photo tripod just weren't cutting it. So I bought the Meade tripod for the ETX. That wasn't much better than the photo tripod and the leg locks had this habit of slipping. Then I had to get an aftermarket right angle finder because the one that came with the scope was unusable. So now I'm into the ETX to the tune of about $750.

The starfinder was sticky and creaky, though the views were pretty good. The plastic focuser was a joke and had huge image shift problems.

For all intents and purposes I was firmly in the meade camp with my scopes and eyepieces. Then based on a lot of what I read on-line on various telescope sites there always seemed to be optical problems with meade refractors, and customer service was somewhere between so-so and terrible.

I then read about the new ETX with autostar, and kinda lusted after one of those. I remember talking to someone at Pocono Mountain Optics about it (might have been a fellow customer) and he suggested to wait a bit before considering an ETX/autostar purchase so Meade could "get the bugs out". I remember naively thinking "what bugs would need to be worked out." Remember, I was a newbie at the time. Then I started reading about all the software/alignment issues that were incurred by even experienced users.

I then dropped out of the hobby for many years, but when I got back in I vowed to never buy another meade product because of my experience. The products were half-baked upon release and/or a conscious decision was made to use cheapo materials that were just too cheap for the task at hand.

I looked at the announced LX80 with some distant interest because it looked like it might be a great product. So I was interested in seeing if the product would be rolled out half-baked and if the quality of materials would be too cheap for what they were designed to do. Sure enough, it appeared that it was business as usual.

While it may be too late in the short-term, Meade needs to be delivering quality products and providing great customer service. While no doubt pricing plays a role in market share, people would be willing to pay more for perceived value. And I think it's a general lack of value and customer service that over the last many years has brought Meade to its current state.


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bierbelly
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: stratocaster]
      #5636820 - 01/22/13 12:42 PM

I think Meade need to drop back and punt. They have a widely recognized trademark, but in recent years have tried to be everything to everybody.

If they were smart they'd look on here, in the Beginner's section, and see how many posts ask for a telescope at the $200 price range. Is it possible that a decent beginner's telescope can't be made, even with the ready accessibility of Chinese optics, at this price point? Do they all have to be made with plastic tubes and lousy mounts?

Instead, even on their low end they're pushing goto scopes, with questionable electronics.

Wake up Meade. There's a market, it's low end but it's almost entirely unserved. Make a decent 60mm achro on a stable mount and sell it for $200. Christmas comes every year.

Edited by bierbelly (01/22/13 12:43 PM)


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Glen A W
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rcdk]
      #5636863 - 01/22/13 12:59 PM

Quote:

Put a 6" reflector in Walmart on a dob mount. If people shopping for that first telescope could actually buy something capable of keeping their interest the equipment companies would be doing much better.




They won't buy it! So many of the general public I know really just know one thing about scopes - motors buzzing and pointing it at all sorts of things the scope won't show. I think it is worse than back when they sold them based on magnifying power! GW


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Lorence
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Reged: 09/15/08

Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5637162 - 01/22/13 03:29 PM

Quote:

They won't buy it! So many of the general public I know really just know one thing about scopes - motors buzzing and pointing it at all sorts of things the scope won't show.




The one thing many amateur astronomers refuse to admit is they really can't see a lot through their eyepieces. There a few bright objects but most are nothing more than a vague patch of light.

Considering the quality and quantity of astrophotos available to everyone with a web connection, can you blame newcomers for being disappointed. "Is that all there is to see" is not exactly the best marketing slogan I've ever heard.

There is equipment that will greatly improve one's view but the equipment and those that use it are not considered as true astronomers by the community in general.

Too bad. There are probably many that would be interested in newer technology but when the subject of video and near live viewing comes up the traditionalists get their noses out of joint and demand the video people go back where they belong. Great way to foster interest in the hobby.

For what it's worth and to keep Meade in the subject here's the result of two minutes time on a Meade 10" LX200 ACF.

http://www.mts.net/~lmlod/Photo/M42%20Full%20Res%202%20min.jpg

No processing. Image downloaded from camera to the screen then saved to disk.

Of course this is not really astronomy. You have to see it with your own eyes or mash the image data through Photoshop for a few hours before it is really astronomy. Make sure that message is made very clear to any newcomer. Show up with one of those new fangled cameras and you ain't welcome here son.


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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Lorence]
      #5637220 - 01/22/13 04:03 PM

Interesting picture. Compared to the visual view,
--the image is overexposed in the center
--the outer envelope of the nebula is missing.
--the star images are bloated.
So, not the equal of a visual image.

BUT, that image could have been taken in LA, while the visual image of the nebula in the same locale will not be any better and probably require an expensive filter.

Video astronomy has its place, but the equipment to do it is beyond the budget of beginners. By the time someone is willing to invest in the equipment to make it a reality, they are already outside the realm of the beginners. It isn't going to happen for $300 total outlay, for example, and even $300 is stretching it for most beginners.

Except on the Moon, where a $75 HD video camera could be attached to any telescope that tracks (and I've seen some at <$200 that do) for some great Moon images.

But even that is going to be highly disappointing to a beginner who has been led to believe his $75 60mm refractor will give him full-color, Hubble-like, images visually.

Face it. Meade's woes are those of the astronomy world in general in addition to poor management choices:
--a shrinking demographic. The astronomers I meet at star parties are all getting older and young entries into the hobby are few and far between.
--a poor economy. Discretionary expenditures are still not at pre-2008 levels.
--light pollution. This continues to get worse every year, and 97% of Americans live in heavily light-polluted areas.
--Unrealistic expectations. Most non-informed consumers think that all you have to do is plug any telescope into a computer and you'll get Hubble-quality photographs. They think that computerized scopes are ones that give images when plugged into a laptop. They don't understand about mounts and cameras and tracking and all the issues related to getting such an image. Learning the truth about how an image is produced is an interest-crushing letdown for most of those people.


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Alph
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5637312 - 01/22/13 04:41 PM

Quote:

Saw in another thread an item about Meade possibly going bankrupt. Then saw this article too:
http://www.macroaxis.com/invest/ratio/MEAD--Probability_Of_Bankruptcy





The cited webpage states
"The Probability Of Bankruptcy for all stocks is 125.19% lower than the firm."
That's a joke. They better go back to school and learn math.
That reminds me of one European politician back in the 90's who promised to lower prices by 100%. He made a laughing stock of himself. People are still mocking him to this day. Little did he know that he basically promised to make everything free.


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csrlice12
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5637328 - 01/22/13 04:52 PM

That's another way of saying Meade is 125.19% MORE likely to go bankrupt then their average counterpart (NOT 25% more likely, but 125% or 5 TIMES more likely)--in other words, Meade's doing really bad financially. I agree with what you say though, as the rest of the paragraph was written in just the opposite language, making them appear to say different things when they were really saying basically the same thing...Meade's not doing well against its competitors, nor is it doing well financially. In fact, looking at its other financial data; I'm surprised its still around......

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StarStuff1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Steve Drapak]
      #5637448 - 01/22/13 05:52 PM

Quote:



With luck (well, for us, not the local producers), the Chinese quality will progress like the Japanese did years ago. Though with the world economy in the shape it is now, not many people are willing to make good solid products that cost more to make.




The Chinese have the ability to make astro stuff every bit as good as the importer/distributer is willing to pay for it.


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D. Perry
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: EricRemy]
      #5637567 - 01/22/13 07:08 PM

They've been operating on financially thin ice for years now. It's important to remember that filing for bankruptcy protection does not necessarily mean a company will fold and disappear. It's a chance for them to make good on debts and restructure their business.

The mistakes Meade has made over the years are too many to list, both from a product and a business perspective. But they have 3 core flaws in my opinion: (1) The people who run the business move forward way to easily and quickly on the ideas their product and marketing managers put forth. This leads to poorly conceived products for which the market is questionable. (2) They make mechanically sloppy devices thinking they can software engineer them back to "observatory-like" performance. It just don't work that way. And (3), very closely related to the first two, Meade often introduces their products as geared for beginners... yet they price them way out of reach for most people who might be insterested in such a product.

Their Lightswitch is clearly a telescope for beginners. It does everything for you, narrates, has lots of bells and whistles (that come off as gimmicky), etc. The 8" is $2,000!

Their extremely clumsy-looking LX850 mount is $6,000?! Anyone in the market for a $6,000 mount will probably turn to Losmandy or Astro-Physics before they ever consider Meade's contraption.

Meade is a company that doesn't know what it wants to be, so it tries to be everything to everyone.

I don't intend to bash Meade. I absolutely don't want to see them go away. I just think they have been a misguided and poorly managed company for a long time. And it's sad to see a company suffer partly because of their own actions. They need a CEO who has the knowledge and leadership to get them to profitability, someone who will likely sell off or shut down the less profitable divisions, replace some marketing folks with high level engineers and product developers, condense their product lines, and focus on who they want their customer to be.

Ugh... I feel like I could go on and on, but looking back at what I've written, I think I've gone on too long already. :-)

I DO wish them the best.


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rcdk
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: D. Perry]
      #5637605 - 01/22/13 07:35 PM

There is a class of "beginner" this is perfect for: The middle ager with lots of cash looking for toys. But to reach him you need to market it through a sharper image catalog. (I bought my LX90 for my wife )

The LX800/850's problems are a bit more practical than how it looks.
Quote:


...
Their Lightswitch is clearly a telescope for beginners. It does everything for you, narrates, has lots of bells and whistles (that come off as gimmicky), etc. The 8" is $2,000!
...
Their extremely clumsy-looking LX850 mount is $6,000?! Anyone in the market for a $6,000 mount will probably turn to Losmandy or Astro-Physics before they ever consider Meade's contraption.
...





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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: D. Perry]
      #5637689 - 01/22/13 08:36 PM

Quote:

Meade is a company that doesn't know what it wants to be, so it tries to be everything to everyone.




I think this is the long and short of it. The company does not have nor has it ever really had a vision. They started out making Newtonians on the RV-6 and Cave model. Then they made SCTs on the Celestron model while importing various Japanese refractors and reflectors. Their Dobsonians had promise but were too much like the Coulters. They hit the mark with the LX-200, perfecting something Celestron had been trying. Their ED refractors were problematic...

Compare Meade to Orion. Somehow Orion seems to have a sense of where the market is going... they are leaders rather than followers.

Jon


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Mr Magoo
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5637757 - 01/22/13 09:03 PM

Jon, I think one big difference between Meade and Orion is that Orion is nothing but a equipment seller. To my knowledge they don't R&D anything.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Mr Magoo]
      #5637794 - 01/22/13 09:20 PM

Quote:

Jon, I think one big difference between Meade and Orion is that Orion is nothing but a equipment seller. To my knowledge they don't R&D anything.




I am not sure how involved they are with the R&D but they certainly seem to be in touch with the marketplace and seem to assemble a wide variety of products from a wide variety of sources. I believe Orion designed the original XT-10, they have been the first to introduce a number of innovative products, the ED-80 for example, it just seems like they must be a collaborative effort between Orion and the various manufacturers.

In terms of what could be done, why is it that Orion is the only one who has something like Intelliscope, certainly it was within Meade's capabilities, they could have been there first. I think it is a lack of vision within the company.

Jon


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Ed Kessler
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5637872 - 01/22/13 10:16 PM

I haven't bought a Meade product in years. Based on the problems I've had with their products in the past, they deserve to go under.

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The Ardent
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5637878 - 01/22/13 10:20 PM

Meade Starfinder EQ (Criterion/ Cave Newtonians)
Meade Starfinder Dob (Coulter Dob)
Meade SCT (Celestron SCT)
Meade ETX 90 (Questar 90)
Meade 7" LX200 (Questar 7)
Meade 102/127 ED Refractors 1992 (Televue Genesis, AP Traveler, AP Star 120, 130 ED)
Meade 152/ 178 Refractors 1992 (AP Starfire 152 / 178)
Meade 4000 Super Plossl (Televue Plossl/ Celestron Ultima / Orion Ultrascopic)
Meade 4000 SuperWide (Televue Wide Field)
Meade 4000 UltraWide (Televue Nagler)
Meade Richey Chretien (Optical Guidance Systems RC)

Which one came first?


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mich_al
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Ed Kessler]
      #5637931 - 01/22/13 10:48 PM

Quote:


(1) The people who run the business move forward way to easily and quickly on the ideas their product and marketing managers put forth. This leads to poorly conceived products for which the market is questionable. (2) They make mechanically sloppy devices thinking they can software engineer them back to "observatory-like" performance. It just don't work that way




Two key points that ought to be drilled into the heads of anyone trying to run a tech company! More often than not marketing has no clue what engineering it really takes to make anything happen---but they make great presentations. And we can always tweak the software to get it right... right?


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Alph
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: D. Perry]
      #5638141 - 01/23/13 01:06 AM

Quote:

Their extremely clumsy-looking LX850 mount is $6,000?! Anyone in the market for a $6,000 mount will probably turn to Losmandy or Astro-Physics before they ever consider Meade's contraption.



Ridicules. You just don't get it. The Losmandy mounts are old junk that did not receive any significant upgrade in decades. The A-P mounts are twice as expensive as the LX850 when you include tripod/pier , counterweights, and other accessories. Oh no, please don't even mention the Mach1 as it is no match to the LX850.


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cn register 5
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5638217 - 01/23/13 03:57 AM

Another reason for Meade's lack of success recently is, I believe, the tendency for some Meade supporters to aggressively characterise all criticism as bashing.

This has tended to suppress feedback so problems have not got back to Meade and so have not been fixed.

An example I have personal knowledge of is with the DSI. There's a bug in the object save code that mean that the DSI software crashes if the object name is not a valid file name. This is a schoolboy programming error, not checking that the input data is valid, and is trivial to fix.

I reported this on the DSI Yahoo group for the first version and it's still there, largely because the people with the Meade contacts had the criticism is bashing mindset.

Chris


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Astrojensen
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5638231 - 01/23/13 04:18 AM

Quote:

In terms of what could be done, why is it that Orion is the only one who has something like Intelliscope, certainly it was within Meade's capabilities, they could have been there first. I think it is a lack of vision within the company.




I still firmly believe that the Lightbridge dobsonians is one of Meade's greatest products ever. It is not perfect in every sense, but they work well right out of the box, are solid and reliable, generally have good optics and just plain work. Why they didn't come out with a GOTO option for them is baffling, to say the least. Instead, they let JMI take that market. And Orion with their Intelliscopes. Huge mistake.

Dobs are all the rage with the visual observers these days (along with apochromats). Why Meade didn't take this market more seriously is a mystery. Perhaps they didn't see it as advanced enough, but that is precisely where they could have made a difference.

They should have developed GOTO dobs. And a Mallincam equivalent for the video astronomy crowd in light polluted areas. These products might eventually have been developed, but what I mean is that they should have been first, or at least early adopters.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5638233 - 01/23/13 04:24 AM

An AP900 is not twice the price of an LX850 with the counterweights and doodads.

900GTO - 8750
900RPA - 325
Robin Casady 31012226-AP3-22lb-S x2 - 466
Robin Casady Dove12 - 179
Rob Miller Tri36M - 900

= 10620.


given Jason's updates on the LX850 in the other thread, I would say you are half-right Alph. The LX850 seems to be everything that the 800 was not. But is it good enough to overcome the massive and inherent distrust of Meade?

Personally, not for me. My first scope was a Meade ETX60, and I drooled over the ETX90 and LX90 for many years. But today, with $6000... I just can't risk buying an LX850. And I didn't. My wife would kill me if I got something that wasn't "perfect." I have no desire to carry 70lb of payload and I don't like gambling. So it's the Mach1 for me.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5638239 - 01/23/13 04:52 AM

Quote:

Quote:

In terms of what could be done, why is it that Orion is the only one who has something like Intelliscope, certainly it was within Meade's capabilities, they could have been there first. I think it is a lack of vision within the company.




I still firmly believe that the Lightbridge dobsonians is one of Meade's greatest products ever. It is not perfect in every sense, but they work well right out of the box, are solid and reliable, generally have good optics and just plain work. Why they didn't come out with a GOTO option for them is baffling, to say the least. Instead, they let JMI take that market. And Orion with their Intelliscopes. Huge mistake.

Dobs are all the rage with the visual observers these days (along with apochromats). Why Meade didn't take this market more seriously is a mystery. Perhaps they didn't see it as advanced enough, but that is precisely where they could have made a difference.

They should have developed GOTO dobs. And a Mallincam equivalent for the video astronomy crowd in light polluted areas. These products might eventually have been developed, but what I mean is that they should have been first, or at least early adopters.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark




Thomas:

Consider the history of the Lightbridge:

About the year 2000, Orion introduced the XT-6 and XT-8. Both were manufactured by GSO. Within a couple of years, Orion added the XT-10. Then Orion switched suppliers, Synta started manufacturing the XT series Dobs and GSO was marketed by a number of smaller vendors, OPT, Hands on Optical, Hardin... (Now its Astro-Tech, Apertura, Zhumell is the US) In time, GSO developed the 12 inch and eventually the 16 inch.

Meade probably had some input into the final design of the Lightbridge but basically they just hooked up with GSO, the manufacturer who had initiated and perfected the Asian metal tube Dob. The irony here is that GSO had been instrumental in taking the commercial Dobsonian to the next level, upstaging Meade's offerings which eventually led to Meade's dropping the Starfinder line. They never did upgrade it... Essentially, with the Lightbridge series, Meade just piggybacked itself on to a vision Orion had had several years before.

Jon


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Astrojensen
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5638247 - 01/23/13 05:12 AM

Hi Jon

I am not sure I entirely agree with the idea that Meade just piggybacked on a vision Orion had had a few years earlier. Meade was the first to offer a very good truss tube dob for the masses, IE not a premium priced one. The also look radically different than the other offers from GSO, though they do use many GSO parts, such as mirror cells, spider assembly, mirrors, etc.

I still think they missed out big time by not offering a GOTO option for them.

But now that I think about it, I think that if Meade folds, we will see the Lightbrigdes sold unchanged under the GSO brand.

What really irks me that with a few, minor tweaks, they could have a world-class truss dob for the masses.

- make the lower tube a bit shorter and the trusses longer
- make the altitude trunnions larger, in a semicircle design and make them removable
- use teflon bearings in altitude
- use a Mauro da Lio baffle
- rotate the mirror cell so that the mirror rests on two points when the scope is pointed horisontally, instead of only one.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5638305 - 01/23/13 06:50 AM

Quote:

I am not sure I entirely agree with the idea that Meade just piggybacked on a vision Orion had had a few years earlier. Meade was the first to offer a very good truss tube dob for the masses, IE not a premium priced one. The also look radically different than the other offers from GSO, though they do use many GSO parts, such as mirror cells, spider assembly, mirrors, etc.




I am quite sure that the Lightbridges are entirely manufactured by GSO and GSO also manufactured 16 inch strut Dobs that were and may still be sold by others including Astro-Tech.

I am not quite sure how "radically different" applies, they are essentially a tube dob that has had the center section replaced with short trusses. I suspect that Meade may have had some input on the design of the trusses and some styling issues but to my eye it was just a natural evolution of the original Orion XT Series Dobs.

Jon


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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5638613 - 01/23/13 10:35 AM

If I recall the history, the "LightBridge" truss scopes from GSO were sold by Andrews in Australia for a year or two prior to their slight re-working and sale in the US by Meade.
And, IIRC, each new size was sold in Australia first, followed by its introduction into the US.
However, I believe the Andrews scopes are and were the GSO strut design with straight poles. I think Carol has one of those in the 16" size.
So there are some upgraded things about the Meade LB scopes, and they've been upgraded several times: 1 speed to 2 speed focusers, white tube rings and poles changed to black, metal washers under the secondary collimation bolts, etc.
There probably wasn't much need for the 8" size that was dropped a long time ago, at least in a truss design, but the sizes they had were big sellers for Meade. Just not as profitable as they could have been.


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Alph
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5638959 - 01/23/13 01:39 PM

Quote:

An AP900 is not twice the price of an LX850 with the counterweights and doodads.



You forgot to factor in the 5% discount and free shipping that you can get from many dealers.


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5639015 - 01/23/13 02:31 PM

shipping is also free from AP.. even with 5% it is still not twice. and by going with a cheaper tripod like a Losmandy HD the price of the AP setup can be reduced even further. i don't think anyone would compare a stock tripod from Meade or Celestron with a Rob Miller favorably..

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ahopp
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5639057 - 01/23/13 03:02 PM

I can tell you that the tripod that came with my LX-800/850 is very substantial. No question it will handle the load of the mount and the 14".

Tony


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: ahopp]
      #5639080 - 01/23/13 03:16 PM

Tony, i didn't mean the stock meade tripod is no good. I'm sure its substantial. I'm also sure it doesn't weigh 14lb like the Tri36M does. My point to Alph was, the 900 is not 2X the price even with a premium tripod like the Rob Miller, and downgrading the tripod would lower the cost some more.

it is still very spendy compared to an LX850, no doubt about that. but not double.

this whole urban legend of AP accessories being so expensive that they turn a 6.3k Mach1 into a 9k mount has got to be addressed because it discourages many potential buyers, myself included, until i did the math.


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Alph
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5639114 - 01/23/13 03:37 PM

Quote:

i don't think anyone would compare a stock tripod from Meade or Celestron with a Rob Miller favorably..



Neither would I. I couldn't care less about Rob Miller's. The mount head can be easily rotated 360 degrees on the LX850 tripod without using a tool. Compare it to those silly setscrews on the Rob Miller's.


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Pak
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5639121 - 01/23/13 03:43 PM

Quote:

Tony, i didn't mean the stock meade tripod is no good. I'm sure its substantial. I'm also sure it doesn't weigh 14lb like the Tri36M does. My point to Alph was, the 900 is not 2X the price even with a premium tripod like the Rob Miller, and downgrading the tripod would lower the cost some more.

it is still very spendy compared to an LX850, no doubt about that. but not double.

this whole urban legend of AP accessories being so expensive that they turn a 6.3k Mach1 into a 9k mount has got to be addressed because it discourages many potential buyers, myself included, until i did the math.




Well...

Your price quote up there a few posts ago is over $10K.

For that price I can get the LX850 and the 14"SCT and I do not have to buy anything else. No extra weights, no guide scopes or guide cameras, no gps units or AC adapters. Everything is included right out of the box. Heck, they may even end up including the motorized focuser. So while you may be correct that it is not twice the price, you still get twice the value. People are going to take a hard look at that when they ready to buy. If the LX850 does everything they say it will do, and people are happy with the results, then why would they pay for an AP900 and then still have to buy a scope on top of that?

I mean if I win the lottery there is little doubt I'd look at the ParamountMX with 14" EdgeHD for my portable rig and the ME with perhaps a Planewave 20" for my future observatory. I can not however afford that.

Will the LX850 perform to specs? Will it have good reliability and good support? Will people that get one have a positive experience? Will everyone that buys one end up taking photos like Jason's after 15 minutes of set up? Only time will tell.


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Lorence
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5639125 - 01/23/13 03:46 PM

Quote:

Interesting picture. Compared to the visual view,
--the image is overexposed in the center
--the outer envelope of the nebula is missing.
--the star images are bloated.
So, not the equal of a visual image.

BUT, that image could have been taken in LA, while the visual image of the nebula in the same locale will not be any better and probably require an expensive filter.

Video astronomy has its place, but the equipment to do it is beyond the budget of beginners. By the time someone is willing to invest in the equipment to make it a reality, they are already outside the realm of the beginners. It isn't going to happen for $300 total outlay, for example, and even $300 is stretching it for most beginners.

Except on the Moon, where a $75 HD video camera could be attached to any telescope that tracks (and I've seen some at <$200 that do) for some great Moon images.

But even that is going to be highly disappointing to a beginner who has been led to believe his $75 60mm refractor will give him full-color, Hubble-like, images visually.

Face it. Meade's woes are those of the astronomy world in general in addition to poor management choices:
--a shrinking demographic. The astronomers I meet at star parties are all getting older and young entries into the hobby are few and far between.
--a poor economy. Discretionary expenditures are still not at pre-2008 levels.
--light pollution. This continues to get worse every year, and 97% of Americans live in heavily light-polluted areas.
--Unrealistic expectations. Most non-informed consumers think that all you have to do is plug any telescope into a computer and you'll get Hubble-quality photographs. They think that computerized scopes are ones that give images when plugged into a laptop. They don't understand about mounts and cameras and tracking and all the issues related to getting such an image. Learning the truth about how an image is produced is an interest-crushing letdown for most of those people.




There is a lot of spending money out there. Look at the number of SUV's on the road. People have money and some are spending it on astronomy, as you indirectly pointed out, imaging isn't cheap.

Visual astronomy can be inexpensive but there's a potential to spend a lot trying to get the most out of viewing. It would not be difficult to spend more on a few eyepieces than a good astro video camera would cost.

Traditionally, visual and astrophotography were the two choices for the majority of amateur astronomers. Video and near live viewing now offer a third alternative. There are a lot of pros and cons to all of those alternatives. Far more than enough to discuss in this thread.

One thing all three alternatives have in common is that there are people interested and willing to spend money pursuing one or all of them. This is also the one thing Meade needs more than anything. People willing to spend money on their products. Do you think Meade cares how one chooses to use their telescopes?

This brings me back to the point I was trying to make. The third alternative is good for the astronomy business. It's why I spent many thousands of dollars on equipment. Can anyone deny it can attract new people to the hobby or reawaken the interest of others.

My point was those interested in the first two alternatives seem to point out every negative aspect and ignore the positive aspects of the third alternative. Which is basically what you did.

Rather than pointing out the potential of interesting newcomers to astronomy you chose to point out everything that would discourage someone from exploring the third alternative. You are not the only one, you are part of the majority.

What the industry need more than anything is new people and new ideas. The traditionalists are more than willing to welcome the new people but not the new ideas.

"This is the way it has always been done and this is the way it shall always been done." Perhaps there would be more youngsters at your star parties if they and their new fangled ideas were welcomed instead of shown where the exit is.


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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Lorence]
      #5639186 - 01/23/13 04:18 PM

I didn't point out the negatives other than cost.
If a person is willing to spend the money to do any form of imaging, whether real-time or long exposure, the possibilities are nearly endless.
We have to differentiate between the beginner without money (90+% of all new telescope buyers if my years in retail count for anything) and those that have money.
And for those that have money, video imaging is a distinct possibility. The larger the scope, the more dramatic the images. There is at least one large-size telescope maker who customarily makes his scopes for video imaging use.
But the potential of video imaging to attract a larger crowd to astronomy is not particularly impressive. You still have to do it at night, in the cold, and that will discourage a lot of people (including my wife).

It's my experience that, on small scopes, the visual image is as good as the video one. There is a sort of "Rubicon", above which the video images start reaching a lot deeper. Of course the environment has a lot to do with the success of any form of astronomy. Where I live, a 1 second exposure is pure white because of the twilight-level sky brightness. In a dark site, video imaging can be quite impressive.

As for discouraging young people, nothing could be farther from the truth. Where I observe, any visitors leave long before their welcome is worn out, and the near-ubiquitous use of cell phone apps (like Google Sky) and tablet apps (Sky Safari comes to mind) and laptops, etc. makes the site very friendly to astro-imagers. That more people aren't doing video imaging is largely because there is very little selection in cameras for one, and very little press given the interest for another. And once you have the computer and power source in the field to capture images, people tend to go for recorded images rather than the live view.

You look at video imaging as something new and different and exciting enough to attract a lot of new hobbyists. That's cool. But I see it as merely another form of astro-imaging, and likely to attract primarily the people attracted to astronomy from their interests in photography. Which is fine, too, but I don't see it all of a sudden causing the crowds to purchase astro equipment.

Yet, anything that attracts any person to start in the hobby is a good thing, and is welcomed. It's my impression that most people will not be attracted to the hobby unless the skies get a lot darker in the cities and/or people are taught to be realistic about what a telescope can do. It's why I have a tracking telescope on the patio when I have parties, looking at the moon or Saturn so people who sit down to look will be impressed and be reminded that looking at the sky can be a lot of fun. I showed about 40 people at a party the comet Holmes when it was around. That pair of binoculars got passed around a lot, and I even saw some of those people later on at my dark sky observing site. Alas, none of them was young.

Face it, astronomy is a science, and we, as a society, are a lot less interested in science than we were a generation ago. And the slow, patient, nerdy, hobby of astronomy doesn't compete well with video games, Facebook, Twitter, texting, sports, etc. You had to be a bit eccentric to enter the hobby of astronomy when I was young and manned space missions were being launched often, and new satellites, and the first planet fly-bys were taking place. Today, you have to be equally as eccentric or even more so to want to do visual astronomy as a hobby.

That's why the hobby needs a lot more outreach to encourage people to join in. Astronomy is, essentially, "flying below the radar" of people's perception, and we, and Meade, could use a good publicity push.


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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5639232 - 01/23/13 04:56 PM

This is one topic that I've bucked heads with so many people I try to avoid the conversation anymore. I was blessed to have a father who was an ATM back in the 50's and one of the best engineers I've ever known. All that with nothing more than a GED from the U.S. Army Air Corps. He instilled in us the firm belief that there is always a way; it may not be purdy, and it may not be the best, but there is a way to get from here to there. Over and over again I hear about how expensive this hobby is. My reply is that it can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Up until 10 or 15 years ago I never bought anything other than eyepieces and diagonals, I built everything else. Even my 16.5" f/6.5 only cost about $350 to build. As my kids grew up and I finally found myself with more resources than I was used to and I started buying equipment a little here and a little there and I caught the CCD imaging bug. I dearly loved all the neat stuff I could pick up from Meade for under $1,000, and most of it for far less than that. My LPI was $99, my DSI was $299, my LXD75 N6 was $469 (and THAT was a major purchase for me). After that I picked up a lot of stuff from Meade's outlet store or used. Only in the past year did I finally break down and buy anything costing over $1,000 when I bought an Atlas EQ-G for imaging and a Lightbridge 16 for visual. My goodness I love that Lightbridge! And this is what bothers me the most about what I see going on with Meade. They've all but abandoned the lower end of the market. Hopefully if they get bought out the new owners will enable them to once again offer a broad product line, but as a small stand-alone company I cant see that happening in this economy.

I wish them only the best.


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rmollise
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5639338 - 01/23/13 06:09 PM

I wouldn't say Meade has abandoned the low end at all. Not when you can get a 10-inch truss tube from them for 699. They also have a very reasonably priced SCT in the LX90. If anything, IMHO, their problem is TOO MUCH. They need to concentrate on a few products and do them right.

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A. Viegas
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5639345 - 01/23/13 06:11 PM

Don & Lorence I think you are both right.

For me it was a lifelong interest in the sciences and Astronomy, but frankly i totally abandoned Amateur Astronomy from 1991 to 2012 because I was just too busy. It was video astronomy and Mallincam in particular that has gotten me back into this hobby, despite my available time still being very little (if i can use my telescope 2x per month it is a lot!). So in a way, you sort of need as many hooks as possible. Greater interest in the sciences and a better curriculumn in public schools nationwide with an Astronomy requirement, would be nice. Lower cost entry equipment that has as much technology as possible and facilitates video/computer imaging, that would be cool. Despite, the romance of freezing your #(%# off and being able to pick out the central star in M57, for me that was never a hook. And i suspect that for many younger people having a technology component is I believe a requirement to be truly successful and far-reaching.

Without some vision and awareness that it takes better product marketing and brand building, no single Astronomy vendor will really ever become much more than a tiny niche business, maybe pulling in $20-40mn in annual revenues with a pittance for product development. To build a $1Bn product company I think it absolutely essential to bring in the technology element at basically a near zero cost and integrate it with all the kid and adult gadgets, iphones, androids, laptops, instagram, Facebook... you name it.

Absent this type of vision, Amateur Astronomy will remain a tiny little sliver of a business and like Classical Music, it will continue to die away as all the old timers and geezers leave the hobby in much greater #s than the newbies come in...

my 2c

Al


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Astrojensen
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5639346 - 01/23/13 06:11 PM

Quote:

Astronomy is, essentially, "flying below the radar" of people's perception, and we, and Meade, could use a good publicity push.




Yup. Almost everyone I've met and discussed astronomy with doesn't even know that some of the planets of our own solar system can be seen with the naked eye from the city or that the Moon has craters that it takes minimal optical aid to show. I could go on and on.

Where should we start? Schools? Astronomy on TV? TV commercials that explained some astronomy fact in 30 seconds would probably be a good start. The trouble is, as always, cost. Who's gonna pay?


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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dpwoos
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5639359 - 01/23/13 06:16 PM

I agree. The name Meade (and Celestron) should mean guaranteed high quality, and 100% functional. No ifs, ands, buts. Otherwise, folks are going to lump them in with the cheapest imports, and they will have to compete mostly based on price. Not good.

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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5639437 - 01/23/13 07:09 PM

It could be that for lack of money if they don't have them in stock, but I count 16 scopes on Meade's website under $1000, with at least a dozen under $500.
How is that "all but abandoned the low end of the market"?
Because they discontinued cameras that were all sold at a loss when they didn't sell at regular price?
Or is it just that the ads concentrate on their newer products, which are higher-end?
I would agree that perhaps they haven't made the entry-level scopes that we more advanced amateurs would rather they have brought in (I'd like to see a 6" dob instead of a plastic 80mm GoTo scope), but they don't seem to have abandoned the beginner at all.
I see all kinds of problems here, but lack of selection isn't one.


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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Pak]
      #5639477 - 01/23/13 07:44 PM

Quote:

If the LX850 does everything they say it will do, and people are happy with the results, then why would they pay for an AP900 and then still have to buy a scope on top of that?




I looked at the OPT webpage. As far as I can see, the LX-850's are all currently in "Preorder Status."

I think one would have to be overly optimistic to believe that given Meade's history, that they could produce a mount similar in quality and reliability to an Astro-Physics mount.

Jon


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stratocaster
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5639505 - 01/23/13 08:05 PM

Quote:

They need to concentrate on a few products and do them right.




I'd like to emphasize "and do them right". Their inability to do this is what lost me as a customer.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5639506 - 01/23/13 08:06 PM

Quote:

It could be that for lack of money if they don't have them in stock, but I count 16 scopes on Meade's website under $1000, with at least a dozen under $500.
How is that "all but abandoned the low end of the market"?




Don:

The problem I have with Meade is that while they do sell quite a number of entry level products, most of them do not represent good values. A 130 mm Short tube Newtonian on a plastic GOTO mount for money that might buy an 8 inch Dob...

Meade Star Navigator 130

In my way of thinking, Meade did abandon the low end entry level observer because rather than trying to provide them with simple, reasonable equipment at each price point, they marketed products that had the right gimmicks and hype but had poor optics and were just not very good telescopes. I look at the Meade DS scopes and compare them to the Celestron SLT series scopes and I see a major difference in quality.

In my mind, I keep comparing Orion to Meade. Orion seems to value the customer who has $200 to spend, giving that customer something solid for his/her money is a solid business model, you build a customer base and you build a solid product line.

In the long run, a company that caters to a hobby, has to have a vision, has to have more in mind than making a profit for the shareholders, somewhere, somehow, it needs to be committed to making sure that each and every product it produces has worth and value to the customer. Meade needs to get there.

Jon


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D. Perry
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5639516 - 01/23/13 08:16 PM

Quote:

Ridicules. You just don't get it. The Losmandy mounts are old junk that did not receive any significant upgrade in decades. The A-P mounts are twice as expensive as the LX850 when you include tripod/pier, counterweights, and other accessories. Oh no, please don't even mention the Mach1 as it is no match to the LX850.




After looking at the math and checking the facts (and using a G8, a G11, a Mach1, an LX200, and an LX200GPS), I think it's clear that I DO get it...

A Losmandy G11 is a tried and true mount that works. While some might perceive it as outdated (I would agree with that to some extent), people know it works, and very few would consider it junk. The complete kit (with Go-To and tripod) with a couple counterweights is US$3,400. You can add an autoguider setup for about $500. You're now at the same place technologically as the LX850 and you've spent $2,000 less.

The A-P Mach1GTO with an A-P portable pier (not the Eagle) and a couple of 9-pound counterweights comes to about $7,400. Add in an Orion Starshoot Autoguider package and you're at about $8,000. Yes, more than the LX850, but with exponentially better performance and support. And, last I checked, $8,000 is not twice as much as $6,000.

Oh, and I didn't even mention the Orion Atlas EQ-G. You can spend about $2,000 (adding the autoguider package) and get the same or better performance as the LX850.

The LX850 has no proven technologies that makes it any more attractive than the other packages mentioned above, especially when some of them are so much cheaper. What Meade's mounts do have is a history of poor tracking performance that require all kinds of tweaking and "supercharging" to get them working decently for astrophotography. What Meade also has is a history of poor customer service and support. There are examples of them going out of their way to make someone happy, but those are anecdotal exceptions to the norm.

But, I didn't really want to get into the whole debate about specifics. My point was that Meade has issues, and I think the LX850 is another example of the culmination of those issues. I certainly don't intend to diminish the importance of their place in amateur astronomy. The LX200 and LX90 products were/are excellent products that helped build the company through the 90s. The ETXs, while a bit junky and overly priced at first, were still great products for their intended market. But a handful of successes can't bail you out of a landslide of failures.

Others have mentioned that they deserve to go under. I sure hope they don't. It would weaken the market for innovation in amateur astronomy and leave little in the way of competition in the entry- and mid-level markets. Anyone in this hobby should want to see them thrive.

Ok, I think I've added my 4 cents now. :-)

Best,


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stratocaster
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5639517 - 01/23/13 08:19 PM

Quote:

The name Meade (and Celestron) should mean guaranteed high quality, and 100% functional. No ifs, ands, buts. Otherwise, folks are going to lump them in with the cheapest imports, and they will have to compete mostly based on price.




Well said.

When I first got into the hobby and asked for input on what companies to look at I was told Meade and Celestron. As a result of that recommendation I expected high quality. Being a newbie at the time I didn't realize I was paying an excessive amount of money for questionable workmanship and quality. It's only after I got my feet wet did I learn that the value was questionable.

By comparison, upon my re-entry into the hobby I was pretty amazed overall at the quality of my Z10 - very decent focuser, decent mirror, and nice alt-az bearings - at a great price.

I felt like I had received a great value. This is the type of reaction Meade customers need to have when their products are purchased. And I suspect customers would indeed be willing to pay more if the perceived value was there.

The last thing I want to feel like I have to do right after purchasing astronomy equipment is to spend more money to fix or enhance it because it doesn't do what it was supposed to do reasonably well to begin with.


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: stratocaster]
      #5639758 - 01/23/13 11:17 PM

Daniel, the whole "2X the price of Meade" referred to the AP900.

Based on Jason Ware's review in the other thread, I do not think a Mach1 is "exponentially" better than an LX850 - did you see his Horsehead at 2485mm focal length?

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5637943/page...

very good results IMHO. I seriously doubt that an Atlas EQ-G can come close to his results. Maybe with a TDM (+ $1800) yes but an Atlas still won't carry 50# plus and neither will a G11. Or a Mach1 for that matter.

I still think the Mach1 can do better (based on my own experience at 2350mm), but it can't carry 50# plus. The LX850 should really be compared to the AP900 or Bisque Paramount MX. While I think the 900 is better, it is (almost) twice the price. Not twice as alph alleges.

And yes AP tech support is great. They even sold me parts for my circa 1996 AP600.

The story changes substantially when you include the OTA. Meade is $10K all in. Whereas with AP that's just the mount. You're getting the Meade mount for $4K. That is a bargain, even if it can't (quite) match the performance of the AP900.

And we should not be comparing the LX850 with a guider that requires a PC. We should be comparing it to a stand-alone guider like the Lacerta MGEN or SBIG SG-4.

My issue is that the anti-AP crowd is always going on and on about how a Mach1 goes from $6.3K to $9K+ when you put in the options. It does not, as you point out. I was quite discouraged with this kind of talk here on CN - from alph in particular! - but I eventually found out that its just FUD. My Mach1 came out under $6K including a (cheap Celestron) tripod and the 'S' chip which I haven't ordered yet. It was used though..

And to the other guy - my cost breakdown showing 10.6k was for a AP900, not a Mach1.

oh if you take a CGE Pro, add a StarSense ($329) and an SBIG SG-4, then you have something that functionally does everything the LX850 mount does.

It would also cost... $6300.

Right now.. for $6000 I would still not go for the Meade. They might belly up tomorrow. Celestron, or Losmandy, or AP are all safer bets. Also the LX850 mount is heavy. 100-pound weakling that I am, the Mach1 is tops for me (a used AP900CP2 can be had for $6000-odd).


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tecmageModerator
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5639788 - 01/23/13 11:41 PM

Hi,
This is not a thread about Meade's LX850, or any one specific piece of Meade equipment.

thanks,
Richard


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Pak]
      #5639793 - 01/23/13 11:44 PM

Quote:

Well...

Your price quote up there a few posts ago is over $10K.

For that price I can get the LX850 and the 14"SCT and I do not have to buy anything else. No extra weights, no guide scopes or guide cameras, no gps units or AC adapters. Everything is included right out of the box. Heck, they may even end up including the motorized focuser. So while you may be correct that it is not twice the price, you still get twice the value. People are going to take a hard look at that when they ready to buy. If the LX850 does everything they say it will do, and people are happy with the results, then why would they pay for an AP900 and then still have to buy a scope on top of that?

I mean if I win the lottery there is little doubt I'd look at the ParamountMX with 14" EdgeHD for my portable rig and the ME with perhaps a Planewave 20" for my future observatory. I can not however afford that.

Will the LX850 perform to specs? Will it have good reliability and good support? Will people that get one have a positive experience? Will everyone that buys one end up taking photos like Jason's after 15 minutes of set up? Only time will tell.




Pak,

I understand completely. As I said the $10K was for an AP900, not a Mach1. As Daniel points out, a fully accessorised Mach1 is not $9K, it's $7.4K. Even less with a cheaper tripod like the Losmandy HD.

Or build your own out of wood. I did..

I fully agree with you that the LX850 14" plus mount is a great value. If it meets expectations. If, then everybody will be very happy.

If it does not... then you just blew $4K (you can put the OTA on some other mount).

Seeing as I've gone through a number of mounts before ending up with the Mach1, sometimes the perceived "value" ends up being wasted money when your expectations are not met. If you get a (modern) AP, your expectations will be exceeded. Guaranteed.

And that IMHO is priceless.

EDIT: since the thread is about Meade in general.. I guess the problem is that Meade is not meeting customer expectations


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Alph
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: D. Perry]
      #5639864 - 01/24/13 12:39 AM

Quote:

The LX850 has no proven technologies



That's right! It is a new technology. Nobody has done that before. Meade is very creative unlike A-P or Losmandy.


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tecmageModerator
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Alph]
      #5639887 - 01/24/13 01:02 AM

Quote:

Quote:

The LX850 has no proven technologies



That's right! It is a new technology. Nobody has done that before. Meade is very creative unlike A-P or Losmandy.




Sorry, but mount arguments don't belong here.


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Alph
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: tecmage]
      #5639908 - 01/24/13 01:23 AM



Edited by tecmage (01/24/13 07:14 AM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5640004 - 01/24/13 04:32 AM

Quote:


Based on Jason Ware's review in the other thread, I do not think a Mach1 is "exponentially" better than an LX850 - did you see his Horsehead at 2485mm focal length?




When one is judging quality of a mount, it's not a question of one being exponentially better, it's not an exponential function. Rather it is a function that approaches perfection asymptotically, like the Strehl ratio of telescope. As you approach perfection, be it in an optic or in the gear train and tracking of a mount, each fraction closer one gets, costs.

The real question is, how much closer to mechanical perfection is the Astro-Physics mount than the Meade mount? It's a very similar question to asking how much closer to perfection is an Astro-Physics refractor than a Meade Refractor.

Jon


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5640012 - 01/24/13 04:44 AM

I think that guiding accuracy scales with the original untrained periodic error. So the lower the raw PE, the better. But it's also asymptotic.

Jason says 19" raw PE, reduced to 2" with PE (factor of 10 roughly). That's about 4X worse than a typical AP.

Interestingly Celestron quites about 10" native PE for the CGE Pro, reduced to 4" with PPEC. Not a huge reduction.. but these are Celestron figures, not PEMPro figures. Don't know how Jason got his.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5640049 - 01/24/13 05:57 AM

Quote:

I think that guiding accuracy scales with the original untrained periodic error. So the lower the raw PE, the better. But it's also asymptotic.

Jason says 19" raw PE, reduced to 2" with PE (factor of 10 roughly). That's about 4X worse than a typical AP.

Interestingly Celestron quites about 10" native PE for the CGE Pro, reduced to 4" with PPEC. Not a huge reduction.. but these are Celestron figures, not PEMPro figures. Don't know how Jason got his.




I think we are clear that Astro-Physics mounts are of higher quality than Meade mounts. While I think the quality issue is relevant to the problems at Meade, the specific case of this particular mount seems to have played itself out and it's probably best just to get back to the original topic...

Jon


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RogerRZ
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5640079 - 01/24/13 06:38 AM

A lot of times, when figuring out the value proposition, the adage if "it's not what you pay, it's what you get" holds true.

Outright performance/price relation counts, but reliability, durability, ease of use, customer service, resale value amongst other things also factor in.

I think that when people go for the more expensive options, they consider all the above factors when making their choice.


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ThreeD
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5640691 - 01/24/13 01:27 PM

Are we done yet???

Edited by ThreeD (01/24/13 01:29 PM)


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Scotty H
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: ThreeD]
      #5640759 - 01/24/13 01:59 PM

Still waiting for this to turn back into the Problems at Meade??? thread

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blueman
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: ThreeD]
      #5640794 - 01/24/13 02:09 PM

When Meade begins to even come close to AP's proven performance, you might compare them.
But with Meade's past performance, they have a long road ahead of them before they can be compared t the AP mounts.
Blueman


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Glen A W
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Scotty H]
      #5640803 - 01/24/13 02:12 PM

It's a free country. If you are unhappy, why stop complaining at the customer service desk? When you have a problem with a company, take it to the top. Send the letter right to the CEO. I am not kidding - you will likely get results, especially with a smaller company. I have done so in the past and it works.

Realize that the person running a company is surrounded by people with less responsibility than him or her and oftentimes less ability and drive. The goings-on as seen by the customer are not always apparent and a decent letter can be appreciated more than most would realize. The CEO of the company in question is not a fool and in fact came up through the company over the years. Don't you think he wants real input on the quality of the company's products? Just be reasonable and clear in what you are trying to state when you contact such people. They are too busy and their time is too valuable to waste it. GW

Edited by Glen A W (01/24/13 02:13 PM)


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herrointment
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5640936 - 01/24/13 03:37 PM

I took note of the part of the report mentioning equipment wearing out. I'll take it they aren't talking about a few banders here.

During my employers downward spiral equipment was driven into the ground and operators like myself brought oil from home to keep things moving in a circle. Turned out we were 100 million in debt due to some management overreach involving land purchases. The company was purchased for pennies on the dollar by some private equity firm and my job is as uncertain as the breeze.

If I worked for Meade I'd run to the exits and I wouldn't look back.


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cn register 5
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5640955 - 01/24/13 03:48 PM

I see two things that contribute to Meade's problems.

One is what I think of as selling dreams. Many - possibly most - of Meade's marketing hasn't told us anything about the product. It has told me about I will feel when using their equipment. Real information has been totally lacking. No information about fundamental things such as the obstruction size or the weight.

Another has been the aggressive characterisation of any criticism as "Meade bashing". At the level of a forum such as this it may have no effect other than make the forum an unpleasant place to visit but I wonder if the denial that this conveys actually pervades the whole organisation. It could have cut off a critical source of feedback about the product quality and given the people who could have done something an unrealistic impression of the quality of Meade products.

I also think that going for the top end may appear to be profitable but you are dealing with the most perfectionist and demanding of customers. People who on being told they will get "A Hubble in your back yard" will immediately ask "With or without spherical aberration?".

Chris


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csrlice12
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5640962 - 01/24/13 03:54 PM

I also think that going for the top end may appear to be profitable but you are dealing with the most perfectionist "and demanding of customers. People who on being told they will get "A Hubble in your back yard" will immediately ask "With or without spherical aberration?".

Or,
Before or after it had "corrective" lenses installed????


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dpwoos
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5641062 - 01/24/13 05:02 PM

Quote:

The CEO of the company in question is not a fool and in fact came up through the company over the years. Don't you think he wants real input on the quality of the company's products?




A fish stinks from the head. A CEO IS a fool, if they delegate the running of customer service to folks who are unable to do it properly, and/or is out of touch with what is going on in other areas.


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Mark Costello
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5641082 - 01/24/13 05:15 PM

Quote:

I wouldn't say Meade has abandoned the low end at all. Not when you can get a 10-inch truss tube from them for 699. They also have a very reasonably priced SCT in the LX90. If anything, IMHO, their problem is TOO MUCH. They need to concentrate on a few products and do them right.




Concur. For a company really short on capital, Meade seems to really be spread out a lot with a lot of seemingly overlapping telescope lines. They may want to go with the best few lines that really define them and make sure that each rig works right out of the box and is built to last.

For sure I'm one of those 90% to which Starman1 refers, and always will be. I'd just assume that they got the LX80 line working just right so that maybe I could strap a SCT on one side with my 5" achro riding shotgun....


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RealSorin
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Mark Costello]
      #5641123 - 01/24/13 05:37 PM

Quote:


Concur. For a company really short on capital, Meade seems to really be spread out a lot with a lot of seemingly overlapping telescope lines. They may want to go with the best few lines that really define them and make sure that each rig works right out of the box and is built to last.

For sure I'm one of those 90% to which Starman1 refers, and always will be. I'd just assume that they got the LX80 line working just right so that maybe I could strap a SCT on one side with my 5" achro riding shotgun....




Looking at the website yesterday, I agree they have no shortage of scopes and equipment covering a wide range of the market. They might benefit by taking a cue from Apple when Jobs came back in and Apple vastly simplified their product line in a way that customers could understand.

I think one of the barriers to entry in this hobby is trying to figure out what to buy, and then once you have it, how you can do something enjoyable with it so it doesn't just collect dust in the garage. Those are problems that can be addressed by product positioning and marketing.


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rmollise
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: blueman]
      #5641166 - 01/24/13 06:03 PM

Quote:

When Meade begins to even come close to AP's proven performance, you might compare them.
But with Meade's past performance, they have a long road ahead of them before they can be compared t the AP mounts.
Blueman




And yet, most amateurs don't need and can't afford AP gear. There is a place for middle of the road Fords and Chevys in addition to BMWs and Mercedes. Meade has sold a lot of EXCELLENT telescopes including the LX200 Classic and much more at prices that me and Joe Spit the Ragman can afford. Most of us don't expect watch-like precision, but are both happy with and producive with what we've got from them when they are on top of their game.

Meade doesn't need to become the next AP or Tak, they just need to slow down and get a robust QA force to work.


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A. Viegas
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5641209 - 01/24/13 06:30 PM

I would echo with what was just said regarding Apple.

Simplify, execute and deliver.

A few entry level a few mid range and a couple top-of-the line. Basic products with all sort of equipment options.

Deliver a sleek and professional looking high quality product that looks cool and exudes complexity and professionalism but is simple to use and operate.

We are in the 21st century guys. Looking through an eyepiece is certainly quaint and can be fun. But heck, if you want to attract today's younger generation you have to be techno-savvy and techno-integrated.

This last point is maybe the most contentious with the old timers here, but i firmly believe as i said before on this thread, that Amateur Astronomy is like Classical Music, it is a past time that is fading away purely from a lack of connection to the times of today. A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see. It makes it easy to share the image on instagram or facebook or email it wherever... simple. All this techno capability maybe adds $100 to the scope. It would fundamentally transform MEADE and give it a chance to become relevant.

Without such a radical overhaul its game over...


Our hobby will continue. Costs may rise slightly, small manufacturers, new DIY'ers with good business sense will come up with new products and we will all still be here in 50 years. The population of Amateur Astronomers will probably not be much bigger than today, but as a proportion of the population it will remain insignificant and tiny. Alas, its a shame... but without any leadership what more should we expect?

Al


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Starman1
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5641229 - 01/24/13 06:41 PM

If you have too many products to inventory them all, but rely on JIT delivery of each after you get the orders, then delivering them fairly quickly is called for.
When you have too many skus to inventory them all AND you don't deliver quickly, then people will stop buying from you.
Then, because sales go down, you start offering the same scopes on your own website, competing with the dealers, you create a disincentive to stock your products.
Then, you cut off (or get cut off from) your biggest supplier and go with another who is not yet ready to deliver, you increase the lead times for most of your affordable products.
And you release products designed to recapitalize your company that have so many problems you have to recall them or delay introducing them until they're re-manufactured.
And you don't introduce products for which there would be demand but instead introduce products for which you have to create demand with expensive advertising.
And....

I could go on and on. Does what I describe look like a recipe for success?
Could it be turned around? Probably. Would it be hard? Yes. And it might require borrowing money it will take a long time to pay back. Then again, are the public investors willing to wait a long time for their money and stockholders willing to forego dividends for a while?


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5641258 - 01/24/13 06:58 PM

I would be amazed if Meade has paid out any dividend in the past 10 years.

OTOH their stock price was $0.20 in 2009, pure penny stock territory, and it got back up to $3.5 range before cratering to the current $1.70.

So unless they did a reverse stock split back in 2009, they have been in direr straits stock-wise. They probably had more cash in 2009 though.

I would think at this point any Meade stockholders aren't thinking about dividends.. they are probably wondering how, when, and if, they will get any of their money back.


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starrancher
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5641268 - 01/24/13 07:06 PM

A just in email from Meade . Specials include a two inch dielectric diagonal plus a 24mm ultra wide for $159.00 .
Then there's an RGB filter set for $29.95 .
PDG eh ?


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rmollise
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5641276 - 01/24/13 07:08 PM

Quote:


I could go on and on. Does what I describe look like a recipe for success?
Could it be turned around? Probably. Would it be hard? Yes. And it might require borrowing money it will take a long time to pay back. Then again, are the public investors willing to wait a long time for their money and stockholders willing to forego dividends for a while?




I believe it will be turned around. Probably not by the current crew, but so what? The Meade of today doesn't have much relation to the company of John Diebel that some of us remember fondly, as I'v said before. The name has value. Some of the designs and patents have value. I believe a buyer will come calling before all is said and done. What could have allowed the current bunch to turn it around? A runaway success with the LX80: a problem free introuduction, and performance that, while, not competitive with up-scale mounts, made folks turn away from HEQ-5s and CG5s and to the LX80. But that didn't happen. They should have thrown every resource they had into that, and forgot about the 800 for a while. Not enough people are going to be buying a 6 grand mount (if that's what they plan to sell it at now) to make much difference. Lots of 1000 buck mounts (or 800 buck mounts) out the door? That could have helped.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5641306 - 01/24/13 07:29 PM

Quote:

This last point is maybe the most contentious with the old timers here, but i firmly believe as i said before on this thread, that Amateur Astronomy is like Classical Music, it is a past time that is fading away purely from a lack of connection to the times of today. A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see. It makes it easy to share the image on instagram or facebook or email it wherever... simple. All this techno capability maybe adds $100 to the scope. It would fundamentally transform MEADE and give it a chance to become relevant.




All this for a $100.

From what I see, this is what Meade has been trying to do, to many gizmos and not enough real product.

A good telescope always starts with reasonable optics and a solid, stable, reliable mount. Meade needs to begin here. Gizmos and gadgets are on top of this. When there is only $300 to buy a scope, better to keep things simple.

Is Classical music disappearing? I don't know that much about financial statements but a Google search brought up the financials at Steinway Musicial Instruments Inc. It indicates an annual sales of between $300,000,000 and $400,000,000/year and they are the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the United States and have been in the business for more than 150 years.

I have two friends who are young professionals, both work for Qualcomm in R&D... Both are interested in amateur astronomy and both have Dobs...

Jon Isaacs


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EJN
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5641343 - 01/24/13 07:51 PM

Quote:

A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see.




You left out a few things. It should also include a 500W surround sound system &
large screen HDTV. It should walk the dog, clean the dishes, slice & dice
vegetables, vacuum the floor, and do the laundry.


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5641349 - 01/24/13 07:53 PM

but Jon... $300M turnover for Steinway is 2X the total telescope market in the US.

there will always be more people interested in music (classical or otherwise) than telescopes.

A Bosendorfer grand piano? $200,000 each. Makes that Planewave CDK look darn cheap in comparison.

Even an electronic Yamaha Clavinova piano is Gemini G11 G2 price. You can bet they sell a bazillion of those.. since anyone and everyone is interested in one.


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Glen A W
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: EJN]
      #5641351 - 01/24/13 07:54 PM

Quote:

Quote:

A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see.




You left out a few things. It should also include a 500W surround sound system &
large screen HDTV. It should walk the dog, clean the dishes, slice & dice
vegetables, vacuum the floor, and do the laundry.




Meade is working on it and is going to introduce that model on April 1.


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starrancher
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: EJN]
      #5641406 - 01/24/13 08:23 PM

Quote:

Quote:

A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see.




You left out a few things. It should also include a 500W surround sound system &
large screen HDTV. It should walk the dog, clean the dishes, slice & dice
vegetables, vacuum the floor, and do the laundry.




This is a problem in that society has already been dummied down so severely that they need now a nanny scope to walk them through ?
Shouldn't we want to have at least a little bit of intellect to operate something anymore ? Everything designed for the dummy all the time just creates laziness which is already an over rewarded trait and contributes to a continual decline of human society unfortunately predominant in the North American continent . Disgraceful if you ask me .


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A. Viegas
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5641455 - 01/24/13 08:50 PM

Quote:

This is a problem in that society has already been dummied down so severely that they need now a nanny scope to walk them through ?
Shouldn't we want to have at least a little bit of intellect to operate something anymore ? Everything designed for the dummy all the time just creates laziness which is already an over rewarded trait and contributes to a continual decline of human society unfortunately predominant in the North American continent . Disgraceful if you ask me




Agree with your supposition (namely that people should be educated and curious enough to care about knowledge in general), but I disagree with your conclusion. Reality is that most hobbies or professions have a degree of expertise that is just not very easy to acquire unless there is countless hours of practice and learning. The issue is how can you entice and motivate enough new entrants into Astronomy that it can grow to become a more significant consumer industry and indirectly support a number of larger successful companies and serve a larger community. In this regard it requires a hook and a connection with society at large.

My suggestion was to try and merge more technology with the existing mechanical elements of the telescope. Actually I think most of my technology suggestions would cost less than the $100 i suggested. Would you get a super duper resolution CCD? Nope. Would the mount track flawlessly for anything more than maybe a few seconds of exposure? probably not. The wifi and lcd screens, those are ubiquitous and cheap. So, yeah I think it could be done and package it in a nice stainless steel looking enclosure (ok, fancy plastic that looks nice) The goal here is how can you build a product that sells not a hundred units or maybe 1 or 2 thousand... you want to sell a million or more. Am I dreaming here? No I dont think so... this year in fact we are all going to be astounded with two brilliant comets. If that can't capture the public imagination, then maybe we should just forget about science education in the USA and just import our PhD candidates from China and India... so I think there is an opportunity here to capture the public interest. A $400-500 scope combination (about the same price as an Ipad) could become a huge seller. Will it happen? no. but hey we can dream...

Al


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Glen A W
professor emeritus


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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5641467 - 01/24/13 08:55 PM

Oen nice thing about astronomy is that it is something people find because they are meant for it. I am sure about that. It is not for the masses and I actually hope it stays that way. People can ruin anything. Especially, modern Americans. So, companies that try to expand it out much are probably not going to make it. I believe it was Diebel's dream to make a scope that was basically the model T of astronomy. The ETX line was as close as they got to that.

As for importing our science PhD candidates from China and India - we are already doing that, especially in computer science and physics. GW

Edited by Glen A W (01/24/13 08:55 PM)


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turtle86
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5641474 - 01/24/13 08:58 PM

Quote:



And yet, most amateurs don't need and can't afford AP gear. There is a place for middle of the road Fords and Chevys in addition to BMWs and Mercedes. Meade has sold a lot of EXCELLENT telescopes including the LX200 Classic and much more at prices that me and Joe Spit the Ragman can afford. Most of us don't expect watch-like precision, but are both happy with and producive with what we've got from them when they are on top of their game.

Meade doesn't need to become the next AP or Tak, they just need to slow down and get a robust QA force to work.




I bought a used LX200 Classic over 10 years ago for $1000 (I'm the third owner) and it has to be one of my best ever astronomy buys. Excellent optics, and dead-on go-to's (even more accurate than my Starmaster's). With a wedge, I can even do passable CCD imaging with it. It gets constant use and has never let me down.

Meade seems to have lost its way in recent years, but certainly had proven it is capable of excellent gear at an affordable price. Maybe if Meade could be a little more like Orion...


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orlyandico
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: turtle86]
      #5641503 - 01/24/13 09:11 PM

With the proliferation of tiny CCD sensors today, I would think a cheap small pixel pitch CCD with a c.a. 100mm focal length lens (!) in a package that can talk to an iPad or Android device, would be a killer.

sure it would not be useful for visual, it would be a pure mallincam-like device, but I think that's what the iPod generation wants and expects...


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starrancher
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5641520 - 01/24/13 09:19 PM

Quote:

Quote:

This is a problem in that society has already been dummied down so severely that they need now a nanny scope to walk them through ?
Shouldn't we want to have at least a little bit of intellect to operate something anymore ? Everything designed for the dummy all the time just creates laziness which is already an over rewarded trait and contributes to a continual decline of human society unfortunately predominant in the North American continent . Disgraceful if you ask me




Agree with your supposition (namely that people should be educated and curious enough to care about knowledge in general), but I disagree with your conclusion. Reality is that most hobbies or professions have a degree of expertise that is just not very easy to acquire unless there is countless hours of practice and learning. The issue is how can you entice and motivate enough new entrants into Astronomy that it can grow to become a more significant consumer industry and indirectly support a number of larger successful companies and serve a larger community. In this regard it requires a hook and a connection with society at large.

My suggestion was to try and merge more technology with the existing mechanical elements of the telescope. Actually I think most of my technology suggestions would cost less than the $100 i suggested. Would you get a super duper resolution CCD? Nope. Would the mount track flawlessly for anything more than maybe a few seconds of exposure? probably not. The wifi and lcd screens, those are ubiquitous and cheap. So, yeah I think it could be done and package it in a nice stainless steel looking enclosure (ok, fancy plastic that looks nice) The goal here is how can you build a product that sells not a hundred units or maybe 1 or 2 thousand... you want to sell a million or more. Am I dreaming here? No I dont think so... this year in fact we are all going to be astounded with two brilliant comets. If that can't capture the public imagination, then maybe we should just forget about science education in the USA and just import our PhD candidates from China and India... so I think there is an opportunity here to capture the public interest. A $400-500 scope combination (about the same price as an Ipad) could become a huge seller. Will it happen? no. but hey we can dream...

Al





I'm not saying the tech thing be ignored . Say as I have two go to mounts . I started locating DSOs with setting circles on a GEM mount . It was a little time consuming , but with some advanced prep , was able to knock out 16 DSOs in an all nighter , first time out as a green horn . Not bad for a beginner IMHO .
The go to is great and unlike some of the older timers said and it would keep me from learning the night sky , I actually used it as a tool to learn the night sky .
That aside , polar alignment and learning how to get that close as well as doing an acurrate three star alignment to initialize the system still takes some dexterity on the operators part , at least exercising the brain cells somewhat .
Even with the basic tech involved , these are still a grand or better to get into without including oculars , filters or any other accessories at all . This already puts the package beyond what most entry level hobbiests would be willing to spend . In my case , the optical portion of what I have are pretty decent , but by all means are far from superior or premium . So by adding all the frilly little tech stuff , the price bracket either increases or the optical quality suffers drastically . Both scenarios not being a positive for the targeted bread and butter consumer sect . Thus is Meades misguided approach the way I see it .


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telescopeguy238
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: ThreeD]
      #5641756 - 01/24/13 11:55 PM

LOL

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5642019 - 01/25/13 07:14 AM

Quote:

My suggestion was to try and merge more technology with the existing mechanical elements of the telescope. Actually I think most of my technology suggestions would cost less than the $100 i suggested. Would you get a super duper resolution CCD? Nope. Would the mount track flawlessly for anything more than maybe a few seconds of exposure? probably not. The wifi and lcd screens, those are ubiquitous and cheap. So, yeah I think it could be done and package it in a nice stainless steel looking enclosure (ok, fancy plastic that looks nice) The goal here is how can you build a product that sells not a hundred units or maybe 1 or 2 thousand... you want to sell a million or more.




A good telescope starts with the optics and the mount. Gizmos and gadgets are only useful if the telescope and the mount itself is sound.

This is a small hobby and always will be a small hobby. It's not the equipment that keeps people inside at night.

Jon Isaacs


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csrlice12
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5642102 - 01/25/13 08:41 AM

Quote:

Quote:

This last point is maybe the most contentious with the old timers here, but i firmly believe as i said before on this thread, that Amateur Astronomy is like Classical Music, it is a past time that is fading away purely from a lack of connection to the times of today. A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see. It makes it easy to share the image on instagram or facebook or email it wherever... simple. All this techno capability maybe adds $100 to the scope. It would fundamentally transform MEADE and give it a chance to become relevant.




All this for a $100.

From what I see, this is what Meade has been trying to do, to many gizmos and not enough real product.

A good telescope always starts with reasonable optics and a solid, stable, reliable mount. Meade needs to begin here. Gizmos and gadgets are on top of this. When there is only $300 to buy a scope, better to keep things simple.

Is Classical music disappearing? I don't know that much about financial statements but a Google search brought up the financials at Steinway Musicial Instruments Inc. It indicates an annual sales of between $300,000,000 and $400,000,000/year and they are the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the United States and have been in the business for more than 150 years.

I have two friends who are young professionals, both work for Qualcomm in R&D... Both are interested in amateur astronomy and both have Dobs...

Jon Isaacs




God help us if Celestron comes out with an upgraded 102GT. It's already got GoTo (appears pretty accurate too), and all the rest you described is really just software and some cheap hardware. Wow, Could there be a Costo department store complete 102GT/AP Setup for < $300 in our future????


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Mark Costello
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5642198 - 01/25/13 09:39 AM

Quote:

Quote:

My suggestion was to try and merge more technology with the existing mechanical elements of the telescope. Actually I think most of my technology suggestions would cost less than the $100 i suggested. Would you get a super duper resolution CCD? Nope. Would the mount track flawlessly for anything more than maybe a few seconds of exposure? probably not. The wifi and lcd screens, those are ubiquitous and cheap. So, yeah I think it could be done and package it in a nice stainless steel looking enclosure (ok, fancy plastic that looks nice) The goal here is how can you build a product that sells not a hundred units or maybe 1 or 2 thousand... you want to sell a million or more.




A good telescope starts with the optics and the mount. Gizmos and gadgets are only useful if the telescope and the mount itself is sound.

This is a small hobby and always will be a small hobby. It's not the equipment that keeps people inside at night.

Jon Isaacs






This is an interesting discussion on the topic of electronic controls and displays, especially, those that Meade has built into their newer rigs. FWIW, I find myself more in line with what Jon is writing, and also FWIW would add that thing about some of the Meade rigs that does not appeal to me is that they build too much electronic display into their rigs. There're just too many modes of failure for which the owner may not be able to have easily or quickly fixed. For example, I'll take a mechanical focuser over an electronic one (like that built into the RCX line) any day. Also, I'll take an 8" LT over an 8" LS and if I want to find out more about what I'm observing, I'll read an encyclopedia entry, one of my astronomy books, or an article on the internet.

IMHO goto has a definite place. So does the lack of goto. It depends on the optical tube assembly (OTA). If I had an SCT 8" or bigger, I would want a goto mount for it. It's one thing I don't need for my 5" refractor that with a focal length at 825mm can be used as its own finder.


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csrlice12
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: EJN]
      #5642211 - 01/25/13 09:44 AM

Quote:

Quote:

A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see.




You left out a few things. It should also include a 500W surround sound system &
large screen HDTV. It should walk the dog, clean the dishes, slice & dice
vegetables, vacuum the floor, and do the laundry.




I can do all that, but I charge by the hour.....


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aezoss
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5643775 - 01/26/13 03:50 AM

I agree Apple's product line is streamlined and their advertising is slick but keep in mind their consumer electronics model is based on disposable hardware with a lifetime of 6-12 months. They have had the opportunity to refine the iPhone at least once a year since 2007 and get those refinements into their users hands. Many of the platform's issues can be addressed in software. Software that Apple has a massive budget to maintain. Telescope manufacturers don't have this luxury and just simplifying the lineup won't make a substantive difference if the products aren't decent to begin with.

Being a pioneer doesn't pay the bills. The worst thing for a company with no money is to be stuck in development hell and dump a bad product on their customer base. They need a reasonably diverse line of quality workhorses to bring in the cash so they can go off to the lab and invent crazy stuff. Crazy stuff a customer is more likely to buy if her 8" dob or 4" Achro and the mount it came on has worked trouble free since the day she got it.

Intelligent marketing and better distribution would help. With the exception of one camera store with minimal inventory, no brick and mortar shops in my area carry Meade. Support has been cited as one of the reasons vendors don't stock Meade's products. Sad.

Meade also needs to fire their advertising department. I'm looking at the LX850 ad on the back of the March issue of Astronomy and shaking my head. The Meade image is good, but it's reduced to merely okay (soft, washed out, bloated stars) next to the Hubble image. I don't get it. It's a terrible comparison and makes the LX850 look bad. It would have made more sense to show a competitor that the LX850 compares favourably against. Trying to leverage the argument that the scope is not $2.5B therefore okay is actually awesome is ridiculous. I have yet to see a Bugatti in a Kia ad claiming the Rio would own if the Veyron wasn't so good.

Well, here's hoping someone shakes some sense into these guys...

Lee


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astro_baby
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: aezoss]
      #5643838 - 01/26/13 06:09 AM

Firesale the LX80 out of the door to get rid and turn it into cash. It may not be perfect but if you were selling tham at a wacky price you'd get some buyers. Use the cash to fix problems with existing hardware that has a base - ETX-125 for a starter. Get the bigger tubes onto Losmandy dovetails and just sell the optic which are already tried and tested.

You have two big comets inbound soon so pitch at the casual buyers who will but to see a comet. DONT offer stuff to Walmart on crazy Sale or Return but look to get the reliable stuff which people buy working better and into a dealer chain that will offer some service and spares.

I dont do imaging, dont have mega expensive scopes and to be honest hardly know anyone who does. So spending big to play in a completely upmarket arena seems nuts to me. Wheres the selling proposition ? I scarecley know anyone who has a 6 grand mount. I do though know shedloads of people with relatively low cost APOs, Achros and Newts on 1-2 grand mounts so thats really where the market is. Yes you cant compete with SYnta on price - dont even try - lever the brand and push quality. Questar dont compete on price and still sell - no reason an ETX-125 with some metal compoenents replacing the plastic ones couldnt do well. Sell it in a nicy ally case and you'll pick up the punters who like a technoi toy that looks nice - I bit of polished alluminium and away you go.

High end in astro seems to me to be a mom and pop outfit because the volumes just cant be existing out there. Tell me I am wrong and that the big ticket suppliers ( and I would be hard pressed to name that many ) are in fact mega corporations turning out telescopes like sausages.

A local dealer to me has had a Meade 10" SCT in his showroom window for a very long time - its almost a local landmark ( yes go down the high street - turn left at the big blue telescope in the window ) meanwhile he is hosing out a shedload of Synta/Celestron kit in the 8" Newt on EQ5 area. That must tell you something about what the market wants to buy. It doesnt appear to want to buy expensive telscopes.

By the way I had a Meade 5000 102mm on approval from another dealer and boy did I hate it.....one of the most dreadfully engineered bits of kit I think I have ever had. Took me back to how telescopes were in the 1970s. OPtically it was ok but mechanical fit and finish was atrocious. In case you think that was Meade bashing - far from it - I wanted with all my heart to buy that scope but one nights use was enough to convince me not to buy so there is clearly a massive quality issue here as well.

As for ads brng back the men in white coats


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mich_al
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: starrancher]
      #5643937 - 01/26/13 08:21 AM

Quote:

A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see.




Some uber succesful telescope company, that has the resources to properly develop it, might sell a few of those in a 'Sharper Image' catalog or 'Wired' magazine. I suspect that most real enthusiasts want less 'bells and whistles' and fewer things that can fail.


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mich_al
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: aezoss]
      #5643946 - 01/26/13 08:28 AM

Quote:

< snip >

Well, here's hoping someone shakes some sense into these guys...

Lee




It seems the marketplace is well into that!


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rmollise
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: astro_baby]
      #5643960 - 01/26/13 08:41 AM

Quote:

Firesale the LX80 out of the door to get rid and turn it into cash. It may not be perfect but if you were selling tham at a wacky price you'd get some buyers. Use the cash to fix problems with existing hardware that has a base - ETX-125 for a starter.




The ETX 125 is gone and I doubt it is coming back--I doubt they could bring it back if they wanted to at this stage of the game.


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rmollise
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: mich_al]
      #5643966 - 01/26/13 08:43 AM

Quote:

Quote:

A modern telescope should come fully equipped with wifi compatibility and out of the box image capture that is uber easy and totally idiot proof. You take the scope out of the box. You push a button, it aligns itself and on your wireless device be it an iphone or laptop or just on the little 4" lcd connected to the scope, it gives you all kinds of options of what to look at, or you tell it what you want to see.




Some uber succesful telescope company, that has the resources to properly develop it, might sell a few of those in a 'Sharper Image' catalog or 'Wired' magazine. I suspect that most real enthusiasts want less 'bells and whistles' and fewer things that can fail.




The problem with the built-in camera idea is that what do you do when next year's improved cameras come out? For example, the little camera Meade slapped on the Light Swtich was downscale when it came out, but several years later is just plain pitiful.


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jgraham
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5644115 - 01/26/13 10:28 AM

That is certainly true for an imaging camera, but the camera on the Light Switch is little more than a sensor to detect the alignment stars. If it continues to perform that function then it is fine. The problem is that I believe Meade also suggested that you could image with it which was a stretch even when it was new.

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rmollise
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5644165 - 01/26/13 10:57 AM

Bingo, the claim was that you could make nice portraits of the constellations...which was...well...a little optimistic. But my point is, why buy a telescope with a built in ST-4 when before long there will be an ST-2000?

Edited by rmollise (01/26/13 10:58 AM)


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RealSorin
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5644837 - 01/26/13 06:09 PM

Quote:

The problem with the built-in camera idea is that what do you do when next year's improved cameras come out? For example, the little camera Meade slapped on the Light Swtich was downscale when it came out, but several years later is just plain pitiful.




Actually I think this is a massive opportunity to integrate all those iPhones. Just bundle a simple bracket so people can mount their iPhone to the eye piece, and maybe sell a very simple astrophoto app in the app store.

Astrophotography today is only as hard as you want to make it. Despite what some people want to believe, it's a capability within the grasp of anyone with a smartphone or point and shoot camera. If you get more people sharing photos of the moon, Jupiter, orion, whatever, you are almost certain to spark more interest. Frankly, it doesn't matter if it's a $500 telescope or a $99 walmart special. I don't think there's any downside to sparking people's imagination and interest in the cosmos. This is an opportunity I really hope Meade, Celestron, and every other manufacturer takes advantage of.


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Stew57
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: RealSorin]
      #5645127 - 01/26/13 09:04 PM

A go to mount with an iphone in the place of the eyepiece. You select the object and the mount roughly slews to the objects location and the image pops up on the screen, hires and color at that, maybe a zoom in option. Just don't tell anyone the images are stored in the app. Finally a scope/mount that can actually display the images shown on the box and has perfect tracking for ap!

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blueman
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Re: Problems at Meade??? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5645284 - 01/26/13 11:25 PM

Others were comparing the Meade with the AP, not me. I know better, I have had Meade mounts and they were OK, but not really good.

I do agree though, there is plenty of room on the plate for comfort mounts. The higher end mounts are for imaging and if Meade is trying to build a profession imaging mount and charge many thousands of dollars for it, they had better do a bit better than the LX800-850. The specs are not that great, the contruction is OK, but not great and the built in everything is a disasster waiting to happen.
Blumean
Quote:

Quote:

When Meade begins to even come close to AP's proven performance, you might compare them.
But with Meade's past performance, they have a long road ahead of them before they can be compared t the AP mounts.
Blueman




And yet, most amateurs don't need and can't afford AP gear. There is a place for middle of the road Fords and Chevys in addition to BMWs and Mercedes. Meade has sold a lot of EXCELLENT telescopes including the LX200 Classic and much more at prices that me and Joe Spit the Ragman can afford. Most of us don't expect watch-like precision, but are both happy with and producive with what we've got from them when they are on top of their game.

Meade doesn't need to become the next AP or Tak, they just need to slow down and get a robust QA force to work.




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