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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Starhawk
Space Ranger
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Reged: 09/16/08

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

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

Wow is making it work well hard to do.

-Rich


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WadeH237
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/24/07

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

Quote:

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

-Rich




Thanks very much for this post!

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

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

-Wade


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

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

Quote:

I had several reality checks:

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



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


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

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

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

-Rich


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OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/30/10

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

Gday Andrew

Quote:

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





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

This bit
Quote:

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




was the more important part of the question .

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Spacetravelerx
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/23/12

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

Quote:

Gday Andrew

Quote:

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





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

This bit
Quote:

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




was the more important part of the question .

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia




Yes, very true, very true!

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

Remote operation of the LX850 should be doable now.

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


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orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

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

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

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

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


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OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 11/30/10

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

Gday Andy

Quote:

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




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

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

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



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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris


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OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/30/10

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

Gday Chris

Quote:

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





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

Quote:

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




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

Quote:

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




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

Quote:

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




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

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

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

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

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


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Spacetravelerx
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/23/12

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

Quote:

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

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




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


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


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

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

Fun following this discussion all day long...


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OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/30/10

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

Gday Andy

Quote:

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




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

Quote:

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




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

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/30/10

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

Gday Andrew

Quote:

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





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

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

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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orlyandico
Post Laureate
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Reged: 08/10/09

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

Andrew,

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

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

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


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris


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OzAndrewJ
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/30/10

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

Gday Chris

Quote:

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




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

Quote:

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



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

Quote:

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




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

Quote:

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





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

Quote:

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




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

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


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Spacetravelerx
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/23/12

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

Quote:

Andrew,

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

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

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




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


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


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orlyandico
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

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

Ah. I misunderstood then. Apologies.

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

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

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

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


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