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Equipment Discussions >> Cats & Casses

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Starman1
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Reged: 06/24/03

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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: starrancher]
      #5952417 - 07/03/13 01:45 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Since we are discussing history, I am quite sure that the first LXD-75's shipped with the same extruded aluminum tripod as the LXD-55. When Celestron introduced the CG-5 ASGT and AS mounts, Meade responded by first upgrading the LXD-75 to 1.75 inch tubular legs and then later to 2 inch.





I've never seen an LXD75 head on an extruded aluminum tripod unless someone piecemealed a mount together out of left over parts . Nor can I recall the 1.75" steel legs . Now maybe I've missed something here but I've never seen one . Maybe someone has photos or an old ad that can prove otherwise .
I'll still take my LXD75 over the CG5 all night long . I get dead center go to's from one end of the sky to the other at 120x magnification all night long and tracking that keeps an object centered for literally hours on end at high mag . I could virtually leave the scope , have dinner , watch a movie , go back out and still have the object in the eyepiece . Granted , some nights alignment are better than others but I never saw my observing buddy's CG5 even come close to doing that . I dunno , maybe he's just lousy at set up .




Having sold a lot of those mounts, I can say:
--I didn't know until recently that they had ever made the LXD75 with 2" legs. All the ones I sold had 1.75" legs.
--close to a third of them came with the threaded plate casting (the piece of the mount the long threaded tightening shaft threaded into) stripped out so that tightening the centerbolt was impossible. Meade replaced them all, but still.......
--a number of them came with dead hand controllers
--still others came with one motor not working--usually the RA.
--And the T-handle on the end of the tightening shaft had no jam nut on the upper side so invariably threaded up the shaft during tightening. It required dismantling the shaft and adding a jam nut inside the T-handle so you could actually tighten the center shaft by hand.
--most of them were improperly adjusted at the factory and had gears that engaged too loosely, allowing substantial backlash in the gears.

In comparison, the Celestron CG5 ASGT mount had an issue with the reliability of the on/off switch and a too-loose power jack central pin. The 2nd issue was user-solvable, but the first issue was a problem with about 1 in 20 mounts.

All-in-all, the CG5 was reliable; the LXD75--not so much. And maximum carrying capacity was a little higher on the CG5.

In use, in the field, if they both worked, the pointing accuracy was nearly identical. The Celestron corrected for cone error with the 3rd alignment star, but it didn't seem to add any accuracy over the Meade mount.

My experience was with owning one of each and selling over a hundred of each and dealing with the customers after the sale.

To make this relevant to the issue at hand, if the LXD75 was an example of what Meade brought to the table, at least for this user, sayonara!

OTOH, my LX200 Classic is still working (in its new owner's home) 20 years later. And finding every object dead center each time.

Edited by Starman1 (07/03/13 01:56 AM)


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Qwickdraw
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: OzAndrewJ]
      #5952581 - 07/03/13 06:37 AM

This thread sure has turned into one of nostalgia.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with reminiscing about times of past. It always helps to put things in perspective.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5952610 - 07/03/13 07:18 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Nor can I recall the 1.75" steel legs . Now maybe I've missed something here but I've never seen one . Maybe someone has photos or an old ad that can prove otherwise .




Here's an LXD55, a CG5-GT, and an early LXD75 with the original legs.




John:

Great photo. I went back and looked at all the LXD-75 mounts sold on Astromart up until about 2007, all had either the 1.75 inch legs or the 2 inch legs so I guess my memory is faulty on this matter.

jon


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csrlice12
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5952664 - 07/03/13 08:17 AM

Quote:

Quote:

But, how about the Coronados? Multiple folks reported a rusting problem which made their scopes unusable. Some product testing would have identified this issue.




Even when Meade does something uncontestably good folks bash them!

That was Coronado's goof. When Meade took over, they redesigned the PST to eliminate the problem they found with the design. They then updated the ones already in the field to the new design at no charge even though they were obligated only to repair them.




Actually proves even more the point that Meade Management was incompetent. They buy up a company with problems.....greanted they got lucky and turned this one around.....it's about their only good track record in years, and how hard of a decision was it to "hey, let's replace the rusty tubes with ones that don't rust!"...Wonder how much bonus the CEO got for that one...Not Meade bashing, Meade made this bed, now they gotta sleep in it.....


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rmollise
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5952702 - 07/03/13 08:43 AM

There's a reason the scope makers have stuck to RS-232: long cable runs with no need for boosters, and very easy interface setup. All you need is an inexpensive serial to usb cable. It really isn't very hard to use a USB serial cable.

What you are asking for driver wise is not something that's up to the telescope makers, but the O/S makers. Why are there no built in drivers that load automatically when you plug in a telescope? Well, leaving aside the fact that that won't work with a serial connection, the computer makers barely know we exist. This could be made to work with a USB interface to the scope, but, most of us really wouldn't like a USB interface to the scope.

The reason Meade may have declined is that they already have a database of this size in place in the Autostar II, and really didn't need to re-invent the wheel.

I don't know what sort of go-to telescope you use, but most will allow you to upload user objects. And the databases in current scopes are quite sufficient for most users.


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rmollise
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: starrancher]
      #5952704 - 07/03/13 08:47 AM

Quote:




I've never seen an LXD75 head on an extruded aluminum tripod unless someone piecemealed a mount together out of left over parts . Nor can I recall the 1.75" steel legs . Now maybe I've missed something here but I've never seen one . Maybe someone has photos or an old ad that can prove otherwise .
I'll still take my LXD75 over the CG5 all night long . I get dead center go to's from one end of the sky to the other at 120x magnification all night long and tracking that keeps an object centered for literally hours on end at high mag . I could virtually leave the scope , have dinner , watch a movie , go back out and still have the object in the eyepiece . Granted , some nights alignment are better than others but I never saw my observing buddy's CG5 even come close to doing that . I dunno , maybe he's just lousy at set up .





Honestly, these mounts are more alike than different. I don't know how you set up/what you did with the CG5, but it will perform just as well as the 75, easily. The only strike against the LXD 75 for me is the gear problem. On some mounts the drive gears' set screws will loosen over time...one star party I went to featured two 75s being broken down on the field for repair. But I do believe that was the exception, and that both the 75 and the CG5 were good mounts, with the CG5 perhaps a hair ahead in reliability.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: csrlice12]
      #5952714 - 07/03/13 08:54 AM

Quote:


Actually proves even more the point that Meade Management was incompetent. They buy up a company with problems.....greanted they got lucky and turned this one around.....it's about their only good track record in years, and how hard of a decision was it to "hey, let's replace the rusty tubes with ones that don't rust!"...Wonder how much bonus the CEO got for that one...Not Meade bashing, Meade made this bed, now they gotta sleep in it.....




Honestly, you guys are a tough bunch. When it happened, no one could figure out why the Lunts would want to sell Coronado, it was a dream, the result of a life's work and the products were revolutionary. When it became known that David Lunt was fighting for his life, it looked to some of us like Meade showed real heart and stepped in and did a good thing for the family. In my mind and maybe others too, right or wrong, it represents something that Meade did I remember with a warmness that cannot be bought with a million dollars worth of glossy paper and ink and Madison Avenue.

But I have to think it was also a good business decision. Coronado had the technology that none else had, David Lunt had invented the solar scope that did not require an oven, and this was Meade's opportunity... there was no other way to get into the field. And it's worth noting, I believe the rust problem was not with the fundamental design, just the 40mm objective, not exactly an expensive part.

When you look around at all the solar images, through the PST and all the solar scopes many of us have.. that all is the result of one mans work and prior to that, solar scopes were few and far between.

Jon


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5952725 - 07/03/13 09:03 AM

Quote:



Honestly, you guys are a tough bunch.




Well, Jon, it's more like that some of the folks here will never admit Meade's right.

"Meade bought Coronado, the problem showed up in some scopes over time, Meade fixed them all = BAD OLD MEADE SCREWED US AGAIN!"

I am not a Meade fanboy, and they certainly have made plenty of missteps over the past six-seven years, but they've made plenty of people happy, too.


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George Methvin
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5952792 - 07/03/13 09:48 AM

All I know is that if Meade go's under I will miss them. I like there scopes and eyepeices. I have been lucky that I never had a problem with anything I got from Meade.

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bicparker
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Reged: 02/07/05

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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5952817 - 07/03/13 10:06 AM

I think "incompetent" is a bit harsh, as well.

I think, however, Meade's management is in over its head as a public company. For example, they have made several administrative mistakes that you shouldn't make when your stock is openly held (i.e., late and missing reports to the SEC, repeatedly restating reports for mistakes after they have been filed, etc.). These are problems that should have never seen the light of day, and don't with most publicly held companies. Management is solely responsible for this and it casts a reflection on their ability to manage the Meade's business, in general.

These kinds of mistakes get in the way of a company's ability to do business. Their credit gets impaired, vendors and suppliers set harsher terms, and their administrative costs (legal and other overhead) goes way up. After a while, operations are bound to be impacted by these factors. I think that this has become more evident as time has passed.


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Starman1
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5952829 - 07/03/13 10:14 AM

Quote:


The reason Meade may have declined is that they already have a database of this size in place in the Autostar II, and really didn't need to re-invent the wheel.



When stars are subtracted, and objects too faint for the scope (many IC objects, etc), there are only 5-10,000 objects in the database. That database does not include thousands of open clusters visible in modest scopes (over 100 different catalogs not included), hundreds of planetary nebulae, dark nebulae, etc.
In contrast, the "only 16,000" DSOs in the Sky Commander are much more useful, containing more catalogs--but still not containing thousands of objects visible in smaller scopes.
What I offered was a list of objects that would be valuable to the 16" LX200 being used for photography.
Quote:


I don't know what sort of go-to telescope you use, but most will allow you to upload user objects. And the databases in current scopes are quite sufficient for most users.



I owned an 8" LX200 Classic that had no ability to upload user-defined objects. By the time I sold the scope, my personal observing log had 9300 objects in it, about half of which were found by going straight to the coordinates because they weren't in the database. My scope had "145000 objects" in memory, but that memory was worthless for observing.
Even the upload of just the 10,000+ objects in the Saguaro Astronomy Club's database would have been a start.
It would be my contention that since digital lists are available that would put a sufficient number of objects in the database for both visual and photographic users, the only reason they would have NOT to do so would be because they have no intention to produce a scope that would be useful to the amateur in the field; only a scope that can sell in an ad.
If the company had had even one serious observer or imager on staff, that would have been quite apparent.


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5952881 - 07/03/13 10:52 AM

Generally speaking, if you have special individual interests like obscure open clusters that are , frankly, of less interest to most of us than the pgc--remember not everybody is a visual observer-- that's when you hook a computer to the scope.

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orion61

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Reged: 10/20/07

Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5952928 - 07/03/13 11:24 AM

I found using the RA and Dec in thew LX200 to find objects to be just fine,
Easier than Star hopping and the object was usually in or very close to the field of view.
My Compustar is the same way, It only has about 8k in the data base but the DSS are so accurate I have no need for them.
I find it very satisfying to do a bit of hunting.
When I just use the Go-To I am bored through the roof in about 45 minutes.. Unless I am drawing.
Plus it is pretty tough to view open clusters in a C14,
unless they are pretty small...
But I do believe the data bases in these scopes is mostly
inflated hype,
I had my C14 C-Star out with a buddy when he made a comment about the Small database, so we tested them doing the tour mode in his LX200, I punched in everything manually,
there was only one object I didn't have.


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
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Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5952934 - 07/03/13 11:28 AM

You know, if these things were set up using an iDevice as the catalog server with a minimal "Housekeeping" controller on the mount which just kept up with its own geometry and coordinate pointing, there would be no reason not to have EVERYTHING in the database. After all, the iDevice could reach out to the world to get data, or just use a smaller onboard database you could select from it.

Just saying. Of course, that helps figure out what the optimum configuration might be.

Mount
|
Controller
-Coordinates pointing
-Resident PEC/ Guidance response
-Pointing Model (This makes it different from the AP Architecture)
-Wireless com node (Dual mode Bluetooth/ 802.11)
-Low power "Dumb Mount' mode
|
iDevice hand controller or observatory com node

-Rich

Quote:

Quote:


The reason Meade may have declined is that they already have a database of this size in place in the Autostar II, and really didn't need to re-invent the wheel.



When stars are subtracted, and objects too faint for the scope (many IC objects, etc), there are only 5-10,000 objects in the database. That database does not include thousands of open clusters visible in modest scopes (over 100 different catalogs not included), hundreds of planetary nebulae, dark nebulae, etc.
In contrast, the "only 16,000" DSOs in the Sky Commander are much more useful, containing more catalogs--but still not containing thousands of objects visible in smaller scopes.
What I offered was a list of objects that would be valuable to the 16" LX200 being used for photography.
Quote:


I don't know what sort of go-to telescope you use, but most will allow you to upload user objects. And the databases in current scopes are quite sufficient for most users.



I owned an 8" LX200 Classic that had no ability to upload user-defined objects. By the time I sold the scope, my personal observing log had 9300 objects in it, about half of which were found by going straight to the coordinates because they weren't in the database. My scope had "145000 objects" in memory, but that memory was worthless for observing.
Even the upload of just the 10,000+ objects in the Saguaro Astronomy Club's database would have been a start.
It would be my contention that since digital lists are available that would put a sufficient number of objects in the database for both visual and photographic users, the only reason they would have NOT to do so would be because they have no intention to produce a scope that would be useful to the amateur in the field; only a scope that can sell in an ad.
If the company had had even one serious observer or imager on staff, that would have been quite apparent.




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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/05/12

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5952949 - 07/03/13 11:38 AM

Quote:

Quote:



Honestly, you guys are a tough bunch.




Well, Jon, it's more like that some of the folks here will never admit Meade's right.

"Meade bought Coronado, the problem showed up in some scopes over time, Meade fixed them all = BAD OLD MEADE SCREWED US AGAIN!"

I am not a Meade fanboy, and they certainly have made plenty of missteps over the past six-seven years, but they've made plenty of people happy, too.




Hear hear! Myself included. Had an LX90 8" that was the dog's bollocks and an LX80 that was completely bollocksed. All in all though and to be fair the LX80 was a good concept but poor in execution. So at the end of the day Meade isn't a bad thing overall.


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
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Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: bicparker]
      #5953045 - 07/03/13 12:31 PM

Steve Jobs was quoted as saying outstanding products are a brand deposit, mediocre products are a brand withdrawal. The point was it was far better to put out something great and then put out nothing since putting out something mediocre just makes people think less of the brand and feel less confidence in it (and rightly so, since they know a product could be great or it could be carp). The fellow quoting him was explaining why, under his direction, Disney was pouring $1 billion into fixing the mediocre theme park they built next to the original Disneyland.

Meade had the misfortune of management who apparently believed more in the "Ship something- we'll sort out the details, later" model. But that led to lots of flops. Yes, there are folks like spacetravelerx who are still feeling a warm glow from a scope they bought 25 years ago, but there are far more who just became a little wary. Not haters, mind you, but just hanging back a step to see what happens to the early adopters before forking over their own hard earned cash. And in the internet era, one doesn't have to wonder too much about what happened to the early adopters; they publicly post the results. So, any management approach hoping for a second chance is doomed to catastrophe.

The Microsoft Kins were sold for salvage after this happened. There just isn't a second chance, anymore. And in telescope territory, this was apparent in the RCX line's demise. But the lesson wasn't sinking in.

It doesn't matter what your internal politics or processes are; beta testers, make all of the employees use what they make and sell, or the quality czar- all that matters if the first ones on the shelves work or are duds. Note this is another sort of branding. If the output works, then whatever mechanism produced it is vindicated. If it's seriously flawed, then whatever mechanism produced it is discredited. After the first products out, folks became very skeptical of the phrase, "Meade beta tester." So, an entire avenue for getting a good story out there was no longer credible.

After LX800 and LX80, people were reflexively scared of the LX600, whose delivery arc and early hype trail looked identical to the previous two launches. Even worse, the most knowledgable users in the hobby stopped getting the new products and trying them out. So, the competent users who could check out all of the critical performance parameters were instead replaced by voices who had little knowledge of how to check out a mount and had none of the skills to figure it out in real time. Again, this was coffin corner for high end products as one of the great debate tactics since antiquity is to discredit an argument by having an obviously incompetent voice advocate it. We literally had reviews here on CN saying these products were great if you avoided their primary intended use because you didn't even understand what that was. The conclusion: folks who were happy with these products would have been happy if they had found a concrete garden gnome statue in the box. The high end non-advocate users who will kick the tires like they mean it have to be on board, and they weren't.

And let's go ahead and face it- this sequence made bankruptcy inevitable. You can't go out and do that as a publicly traded company and remain an independent functional entity. I have the feeling Microsoft is about to demonstrate having over $200 billion in market cap won't make you safe from the consequences of shipping carp in 2013.

So, in my mind, the real gem here is Coronado. Those things are beautiful. And Coronado has stayed out of the 2012 Meade Apocalypse fiasco.

To keep using the Meade brand in the marketplace is going to require something beyond anything I've ever heard of to get credibility back. If the only names surviving in 2014 were Explore Scientific (with a SCT line) and Coronado, I'd think the hobby won. If we have a third tier supplier using "Meade" to ship,whatever they have in the catalog, or badly cheapened versions of Meade's past products, I can't imagine any good coming from that.

-Rich

Quote:

I think "incompetent" is a bit harsh, as well.

I think, however, Meade's management is in over its head as a public company. For example, they have made several administrative mistakes that you shouldn't make when your stock is openly held (i.e., late and missing reports to the SEC, repeatedly restating reports for mistakes after they have been filed, etc.). These are problems that should have never seen the light of day, and don't with most publicly held companies. Management is solely responsible for this and it casts a reflection on their ability to manage the Meade's business, in general.

These kinds of mistakes get in the way of a company's ability to do business. Their credit gets impaired, vendors and suppliers set harsher terms, and their administrative costs (legal and other overhead) goes way up. After a while, operations are bound to be impacted by these factors. I think that this has become more evident as time has passed.




Edited by Starhawk (07/03/13 02:10 PM)


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amicus sidera
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5953441 - 07/03/13 04:43 PM

There is no question in my mind that Meade squandered much of its "good will capital" in recent years; a privately-held company might have had more flexibility to effect a positive course correction. To extend that analogy, whether Meade's current overseers have piloted it onto the beach or the rocks makes little difference... it appears to be strictly a salvage operation at this point.

Fred


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rcdk
super member


Reged: 11/13/10

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5953678 - 07/03/13 07:28 PM

Different requirements for different users. Some people are happy with smallish refractors that I place no more value on than my 50mm finder.

People repeatedly demand periodic error numbers and long exposures out of LX850 users who are interested in neither. It looks like the LX850 has been well-executed (too late), but it doesn't match the requirements of the top tier of astrophotographers.

This is very different from execution of a new product. One of the quickest ways to doom a system is to try to make it all things to all people.

The other way to arrive at poor execution is to make last minute, untested enhancements and minor fixes prior to a release that should be pushed off to the next patch.

Quote:


...
We literally had reviews here on CN saying these products were great if you avoided their primary intended use because you didn't even understand what that was. The conclusion: folks who were happy with these products would have been happy if they had found a concrete garden gnome statue in the box.
...





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Namlak
member


Reged: 06/14/12

Loc: Northridge, CA
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starman1]
      #5953885 - 07/03/13 09:45 PM

Quote:

Telescope interaction will have arrived when a PC or tablet in the field automatically senses the mount, downloads a driver, then allows you to control the mount without further human intervention required.




Ironically, it's the use of serial communications in the chain that keeps it from being this way. If the mount was a proper USB device in it's own right, drivers could be written to allow software to manage the mount for what it is. But with serial communications in the chain, it's stuck being a simple COM port in the eyes of the PC which makes it up to the user to identify and configure ports and such.

Considering cable lengths as Unk mentioned, it might also make just as much sense to make the mount a network device to be controlled via established and reliable network physical layers such as wired Ethernet or WiFi. However, I've been using a 49-ft USB extension with no troubles whatsoever for the last 8 months with an Atlas mount, Canon DSLR, and star shoot autoguider all operating simultaneously, even with the DSLR streaming video on the line.

For those who do not want to use a computer, neither approach would exclude the use of a hand controller, cheap microcontrollers and other CPUs (i.e. ARM as used in almost all tablets and phones now) are more than up to the task of mount control. And at some point, it's not entirely unreasonable to require the use of some sort of inexpensive smartphone/tablet device as the "hand controller", even if it's supplied as an optional part of the kit.


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WadeH237
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Reged: 02/24/07

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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rcdk]
      #5953892 - 07/03/13 09:51 PM

Quote:

People repeatedly demand periodic error numbers and long exposures out of LX850 users who are interested in neither.




These products don't exist in a vacuum. If people are moving from an LX200 to an LX850, they are probably going to be delighted.

But that's not a fair comparison at all. Particularly in the case of the LX850, Meade has jumped into the market against some well established, premium mounts. Some of us are curious how they compete against other products at this price point.

I can't speak for others, but in my case, I would be interested in seeing the new Meade mounts do well. More solid options in the market benefit us all.

If there's incredulity, Meade has brought it on themselves. Particularly in the case of the LX850, the initial launch (as the LX800) went horribly, disastrously wrong. It should be expected that the LX850 will garner more scrutiny than usual after that.

As for "demand", that seems like a strong word. People are just looking for some solid data from a variety of sources. Absence of this data certainly doesn't mean that the LX850 is a bad product. But it also doesn't mean that it's a good product. Some of the unbridled cheerleading that we've seen from a minority of LX850 users seems unsupported at this point.

I appreciate the enthusiasm and think it's great that they are satisfied with their purchase. But I don't feel like I've seen an objective evaluation of the mount. Jason's images are the best data that I've seen, but he's not said much beyond a few clarifications, presumably because of his relationship with Meade.

In my case, I am perfectly patient. Time will clearly tell us how well these mounts stack up against the competition.


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