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Equipment Discussions >> Cats & Casses

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rcdk
super member


Reged: 11/13/10

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Gil V]
      #5985362 - 07/23/13 12:10 AM

I have seen people that spent a lot more than 3K on a scope and have no clue what bright stars are up.

I never would have bothered with a SCT without goto. I bought it after starhopping for years because my kids were losing interest between objects. With goto they take over the scope and observe on their own and I go back to using the dob.

However, the difference in the alignment procedure was not a factor. I can't imagine that it ever would be for enough people to justify what was spent on the lawsuit. Just one more bad decision in a long line of them.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) new [Re: Gil V]
      #5985509 - 07/23/13 05:05 AM

Quote:

All this talk about multiple methods of aligning alt-az platforms via one star, two stars, etc. The people (us) who buy this type of equipment are all pretty well versed in celestial navigation, and would appreciate top-notch optics and mechanical performance above all else. If you want to add some servos and encoders, fine, but that is not what I am looking for. Those can be added later if required. The customer base that wants to spend $3000 on a scope but can't locate Polaris is not likely to have a desire to find NGC-XXXX.




Gil:

The reality is that people start out with GOTO telescopes and sometimes expensive GOTO telescopes. Certainly a Nexstar 5SE-8SE is a popular beginners telescope, or so it seems. Often part of the reason a GOTO scope is purchased is to avoid having to learn to navigate the night sky. With a longer focal length telescope like an SCT that is designed around 1.25 inch eyepieces, the narrow field of view of the typical SCT does make starhopping more difficult and GOTO does make sense.

In this thread, I make no judgments whether this is a good thing, it just is. Companies Meade and Celestron do promote this heavily and in fact, they make a significant effort to make alignment as easy as possible and consider ease of alignment a major selling point.

I jokingly refer to the difficulties aligning three stars but I do think that the old system the Nexstar 5 used where one levels and points the scope to the north is easier than having to slew the scope with the hand controller across the sky. Myself, rather than tediously grinding my across the sky pushing the buttons, I would prefer to just loosen the locks and point the darn thing by hand.

Of course, I am not the typical GOTO user, my experiences with GOTO come from owning a few GOTO mounts that get essentially zero use and watching a variety others with a great variety of skill levels use theirs.

Jon Isaacs


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Gil V]
      #5985623 - 07/23/13 08:25 AM

Adding go-to, which is what most of us want is not simple after the fact.

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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: rmollise]
      #5985661 - 07/23/13 09:01 AM

...and the person who invents a cheap, aftermarket GoTo kit for various models/weights/types of scopes will make a fortune...the key being easy to install and affordable; if it will be stable enough for AP would be a big bonus (maybe a more expensive, better geared unit).

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Gil V
professor emeritus


Reged: 09/09/12

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: csrlice12]
      #5985715 - 07/23/13 09:37 AM

Well, perhaps a smart person would investigate that. I'm probably just old fashioned, I just wonder how many of us (perhaps not representative of an average telescope buyer) actually want and use GOTO.

My point remains, however, that one of US would greatly prefer a quality instrument over bells and whistles.


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Gil V]
      #5985732 - 07/23/13 09:55 AM

But there's also nothing wrong with premium optics AND the bells and whistles. Especially if the bells and whistles can be turned off or ignored. For many of us, viewing time is limited to maybe a Friday or Saturday Night and with the weather, that means maybe four good days so far this year...so GoTo/PushTo are a great help in having a successful viewing night. I will have time to devote to actually learning the sky and other things after I retire (3 more years to go). Like anything else in this world, we all run the gambit between doing it all yourself (including the mirrors, OTA, etc..) and the plug it in and look at the screen techogizmos that look more like a borg ship then a telescope. How we get there really is more of a personal preference, getting the views is what it's about. Times change, technology changes, and belive it or not, so do we.....

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Starhawk
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Reged: 09/16/08

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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Gil V]
      #5985743 - 07/23/13 10:05 AM

I was a GOTO holdout for a long time. My wife pointed out to me my productivity at getting to more objects was much higher with GOTO than with any other method, even with objects I had manually pointed to dozens of times.

The sad fact is, the GOTO systems were obviously costing a lot compared to the rest of the OTA and mount, and considering making a new one now shows why- it's a lot of work. But now it is seen as a minimum to be in the market and no longer commands a premium.

And I'm afraid if Meade had just put all of their effort on the LX 800 into a really good mechanical drive without working on anything involving GOTO, they were afraid it would just be a "me too" product. And so, the Starlock and its integration bled resources the mount needed.

-Rich


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Gil V]
      #5985757 - 07/23/13 10:13 AM

Quote:

Well, perhaps a smart person would investigate that. I'm probably just old fashioned, I just wonder how many of us (perhaps not representative of an average telescope buyer) actually want and use GOTO.

My point remains, however, that one of US would greatly prefer a quality instrument over bells and whistles.




Ok, I just have to chime in on this talk of gotos.

First of all, everyone is entitled to their opinion and what they like and dislike about certain things.

I guess I am an old timer at this Astronomy gig - I started in 1967 and have been involved one way or another ever since.

I have explored the heavens with my naked eyes. No gotos there!

Did the star hopping thing with my RV-6. Painful. I know my stars, but did not enjoy the hopping thing.

Then I had my 8" Newtonian. One night in the early 80s my brother and I were determined to find and see M57 for the first time. He manned the finder, I manned the eyepiece and we scanned the sky. 2 hours later we found it. It was kind of comical back then. Though we did find that fuzzy little dot! I accepted finding somethings might be tough.

Then I got my LX200 in 1991 or 1992 (my mind is foggy on the year they came out). It had this goto function you see. Doing the setup was very easy on the LX200 (still is folks!). My first target...M57. Found it in seconds - in the field of view! I loved it! Now I could see my list of targets quite easily in one evening. And living in the midwest with mostly "cloudy nights", I cherished my observing sessions and wanted to maximize them.

I have used the telescope with the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing and schools - they put the gotos to heavy use. Yes, we eyeballed the sky, learned constellation names, stars and such...and then used the goto. The kids had a blast. I had a blast!

Video astronomy - gotos are necessary. Yeah, you can star hop, but I have no time for centering on a tiny field of view.

Astrophotography - just as necessary.

I work also with high school and college kids. I prefer the goto there too, especially when I have limited time with them.

Another example of gotos - I just picked up a used, excellent condition LXD75. Two nights ago, I finally had a tiny weather window for an hour with part of the sky opened up. I took out the new mount and APO refractor, though the Moon was awfully bright. I wanted to view M13 and M57 to try it out, but the sky was very washed out - star hopping was a huge challenge with clouds and such. So I did the align process in 5 minutes. Found them both with ease and just stared and stared.

Bottom line - Gotos on the Meades are VERY easy to do. Set up should not be an issue for anyone. The goto feature is not a gimick, it is a useful tool.

Similar example, I use my GPS for navigation on my sailboat. Yes, I can use a sextant, but I prefer the GPS. When racing I can use dead reckoning, but use a host of navigation tools to win (and I do!).

You are free to star hop exclusively and that is fine, but most folks I know use gotos and it is very useful in our hobby. In spite of the chatter about Meade programming skills, the Meade goto technology works very well thank you very much. I love dead centered gotos on my LX850 and I love the ease of setup and use. This is a no brainer folks.

Question - do the they star hop with the Keck?


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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: Spacetravelerx]
      #5985789 - 07/23/13 10:39 AM

I don't think anyone really believes GOTO is a gimmick at this point. It's just there is something to be said for the old way. The most impressive objects in the sky are all visible to the naked eye, and for going out with a grab n go, an evening looking at things like that is perfectly enjoyable.

There was an article in S&T a while ago where the author pointed out AP discussions up to the GOTO era were about just finding objects. Then, in the GOTO era, the discussions were about how to get good images of them.

As for Meade and gimmicks, I tend to feel it would have been far better to get the LX 800 out with no Starlock but mechanically superb. The community was/is hungry for products like that. Then Starlock could have come out as an upgrade package when the budgets could get everything right. Note, that results in an extra revenue stream, especially if it resulted in an upgrade path for existing LX 200 mounts as well.

It's all water under the bridge now, of course.

-Rich


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Gil V
professor emeritus


Reged: 09/09/12

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5985874 - 07/23/13 11:27 AM

I'm not suggesting that GOTO is a gimmick. I just don't believe it is the main reason for buying a telescope. And if I was a telescope maker, I would not gamble my business' success around selling high priced features.

The point that I'm trying to make here is that a well built mechanical and optical system has a place in the marketplace. Much more of a place than a high-end goto system would.

Just my opinion, that's all.


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tim53
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Starhawk]
      #5985902 - 07/23/13 11:42 AM

And then there's cost.

I have a few goto mounts, a few push tos, and a couple of "come froms".

The Gotos are nice, no doubt about it. But are they worth the 5x sticker price over a classic sct with setting circles from the classifieds?

My first "serious telescope" was an 8" Optical Craftsmen Discoverer with 3" setting circles. I picked it because it had a driven RA circle - so it only needed to be set on the first object and would keep the time as long as the drive was plugged in. I spent little time setting up. The latitude was already set, and I would just eyeball north (maybe I should have patented "The Eyeball Rule"), point the scope at a bright star, and set the ra circle. The OC had a great 8x50 finder. I would read the coordinates out of the atlas and push the scope to line the circles up with them, and the target was *always* in the finder. I only needed to center it for it to be in the main scope.

Today, I use my iPhone and skysafari to locate my next target and pull the coordinates off the "info" window. I can even use the iPhone screen to illuminate the setting circles to get the target in the finder. So it's faster than it used to be.

These days, though, I don't have that Discoverer anymore... ...I upgraded to a 1970 8" OC on the Connoisseur mount, which has bigger setting circles and a guidescope.
Best, if the RA clock motor dies, a new one is about $25 bucks, and that's the extent of electronics gizmos to worry about until I add a dec motor.

What will one do when their electronics board fails on their Meade sct and Meade is no longer selling parts? (Assuming they ever did for long after they moved on to the next model, when times were good!)

Tim


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: tim53]
      #5985989 - 07/23/13 12:36 PM

Tim, I had the same attitude about go-to as you. In fact, I never thought setting circles were worth the bother. I star-hopped and looked at a lot of faint galaxies and planetaries. I did that for decades. But for imaging, go-to is essential. Yes, it can be done without go-to (which I did for several years), but it's much, much easier with than without. And once you have go-to, it's addicting for visual, too.

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Gil V
professor emeritus


Reged: 09/09/12

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Calypte]
      #5985997 - 07/23/13 12:42 PM

But, if you were a telescope manufacturing firm, would you rely upon goto to generate an acceptable profit margin?

My thought is that you should sell a quality instrument - FIRST. For that part of the market that requires goto in order to make the sale, I just don't think there are enough people out there willing to spend that kind of cash.

People are BROKE out here with the folks. The 1% is a small, small market.

I would not gamble my company on sales just to the upper echelon of buyers.


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csrlice12
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Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Calypte]
      #5986002 - 07/23/13 12:44 PM

Who needs those new-fangled horseless carriges, they don't stop when you say woah, and using a whip on them doesn't make them move any faster......What do you think Galileo would say about GoTo???? I think the dancing banana pretty much expresses what he would have thought.........

Edited by csrlice12 (07/23/13 12:45 PM)


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jimb1001
sage
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Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: Florida
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Gil V]
      #5986040 - 07/23/13 01:13 PM

Quote:

I'm not suggesting that GOTO is a gimmick. I just don't believe it is the main reason for buying a telescope. And if I was a telescope maker, I would not gamble my business' success around selling high priced features.

The point that I'm trying to make here is that a well built mechanical and optical system has a place in the marketplace. Much more of a place than a high-end goto system would.

Just my opinion, that's all.




If that were true, why do almost all scope and mount manufacturers primarily sell goto rigs?

They've all got it wrong?


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DrGolds
sage
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Reged: 04/06/08

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: jimb1001]
      #5986051 - 07/23/13 01:20 PM

GOTO mounts are extremely useful when you live in a light polluted environment.

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EddWen
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/26/08

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: csrlice12]
      #5986091 - 07/23/13 01:34 PM

There is no way to make a fortune in the “Advanced Amateur Astronomy” market. Certainly not a “fortune” as might be defined for publically traded companies.

Meade was doing $12M in revenues in 1992 selling primarily to that market. I think most people around at the time would have considered them to be the Alpha company in a cottage industry. They made $470K in profit from those sales. Might sound like a fortune to many, but actually a poor ratio of profit to revenues. And a poor performance related to revenues per employee.

I think Deibel determined that was a big as Meade could get in this market. Really, if you had the best product for everyone in this market, you would still have a hard time holding 50% it, people being what they are.

So a growth plan was to grow into a different market with a lot of potential customers. The person who might have a casual interest in looking up at objects in the sky, but were not intense hobbyists. What product would best suit that market? Maybe something like a small, convenient Questar with goto. I would rate Questar owners generally as casual observers. Combine the ETX with some other scopes under the Meade labeling.

How to sell to the casual market? Stores like The Nature Company, Discovery Channel, even J.C. Penny’s, et al, were in malls all over the country. Exposure to mildly science-interested people was huge.

Meade did all the right stuff. They started their push into this market with their own funds and were able to demonstrate revenue growth. Perfect time to go public. You’ve demonstrated some capability and you need more funding to really grow this market. Perfect.

It worked !! Meade grew revenues to $120M and produced profits of 9.7%. They were really making a fortune.

Everyone seems to forget this in these sad times. But they were only a middle man between the Asian manufacturers and U.S. customers. Over time the manufacturers learned how to sell directly to the big-box stores in the U.S. Meade know what was happening, but were helpless to do anything about it.

OK, Meade was going to have to refocus on their small core market. Their only landing point if they wanted to continue to exist. Where was that market now? Heavily into imaging. How to be innovative and differentiate Meade from the other players? The new stuff was a attempt, but poorly executed, both the finished product and market launch. So here we are today. Sales to the Advanced Amateur Astronomy market at less than they were in 1992. Some would say their rise and fall was “meteoric”, but they would not be amateur astronomers.


Edd Weninger

“An Alaskan bush pilot masquerading as an Orange County Entrepreneur” (Ret.)



Quote:


......and the person will make a fortune....





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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: DrGolds]
      #5986115 - 07/23/13 01:44 PM

That's the crux of it. When the light cult wasn't in full sway, navigation around the sky was as obvious as the reason to go out observing. Light pollution made the usefulness of a telescope less obvious just as it made navigation around the sky far more difficult.

I first saw Uranus and Neptune doing my own hopping in a light polluted New Orleans sky when the parent constellation wasn't even visible to the naked eye. It was a lot of work, but sort of possible, and it has always been a major "Wow!" moment to find something. In comparison, the GOTO is a slam dunk, but with no hope of the joy of discovery.

Manufacturers are responding as best they can to beginners who say, "I don't know how to find anything" and are intimidated. And in a sky showing only second magnitude and brighter, that's a problem. Of course, GOTO is only a partial solution since those 40,000 object databases are pretty useless when even Double Cluster is nearly impossible to pick out from the sky glow and its true nature is totally hidden.

In comparison, SkySafari Pro is pretty amazing. It shows everything, and is totally ready to drive a mount. Compared to any OEM hand pad, it's absolutely superb. So, a model where the mounts seriously dumbed down their push for greater GOTO in exchange for native connectivity with SkySafari, that's obviously a vastly better answer than anything I've seen from anyone.

Again, if Meade had executed on the meat and potatoes for the LX 800/ LX 80 and LX 600 mount, they would have had products to ship earlier, they would have performed well in the field from the get go, and maybe we wouldn't have this thread.

-Rich


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EddWen
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 04/26/08

Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: EddWen]
      #5986121 - 07/23/13 01:47 PM

The go-to discussion is a morph from the discussion about Meade's costly effort to protect their method of go-to from others.

Irrelevant to the business issues, except for the fact they spent a lot of money on the lawsuits.

And, the arguments for and against were over decades ago. All the quality gear uses go-to.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
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Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: The plot thickens (Meade takeover) [Re: Gil V]
      #5986135 - 07/23/13 01:56 PM

Quote:

But, if you were a telescope manufacturing firm, would you rely upon goto to generate an acceptable profit margin?

My thought is that you should sell a quality instrument - FIRST. For that part of the market that requires goto in order to make the sale, I just don't think there are enough people out there willing to spend that kind of cash.

People are BROKE out here with the folks. The 1% is a small, small market.

I would not gamble my company on sales just to the upper echelon of buyers.




And yet, when both Celestron and Meade tried to reintroduce tracking-only, non-goto SCT forkmounts (remember the "For astronomers who know where they stand" tagline in the Celestron ads?) neither managed to sell enough to keep the lines in production - while to goto versions continued to move quite well.


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