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Meade Laser Collimation Tool

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I bought one of these gadgets new last year, and tried using it out in the field. This model has the diagonal so you can see it from the back of your scope, a great feature, by the way.

When I plugged it in, I couldn't get the dot into the diagonal, let alone, center it. I eyeballed my alignment beforehand and when I plugged in the laser, it would be way off. So, I adjusted my optics to get the dot in the center. When I did that, my mirrors were so far out I could only see about a quarter of the mirror in the focuser.

I gave up and did it the old fashioned way.

One day, I decided to try again. This time I was in the garage and set everything up. During this process, I just happened to rotate the laser in the focuser and the dot moved! Turns out, right from the factory my unit came unaligned. Whoever assembled it never centered it. There are adjustment screws so you can adjust the center, but by that time I was frustrated and gave up for the day. I took it back and got a replacement that was actually centered. To make sure, I put it in a scope in the store and twisted it to see what the dot did. This time it stayed relatively centered, however, I noticed focuser slop and wondered if it would affect things. More on that later.

Once I got the accurate one home, I was able to put it through the paces. I found out real quick that despite the high-tech approach, it still doesn’t quite do the job as well as the eye and a cheap $4 plastic cap with a reflective inner side that I picked up at an Okie-Tex in the 90’s. The biggest problem is that though it gets you in the ballpark, it is far from accurate because of focuser slop. All you have to do is breathe on it, and the dot moves, and that is “tight” in the focuser. There is something about the Crayford focuser design that allows for a bit of slop, even with a 1 ¼” adapter. In the long run, that may not make much difference for most applications, but if you were to say take photos, the precision would not cut it.

At best, I spent 70+ dollars to just get in the ballpark because I still have to do the rest with my cheap 4 dollar cap. I have seen those other laser alignment tools that are wobble free, but I’m not about to spend another 120+ dollars to get almost the same thing.

I’ve even tried several different adapters to get rid of the slop but to no avail. It is not just my 16” LightBridge that is the problem either. It did the same thing in my home built 16”, and three other telescopes I tried at the store. It gets you in the ballpark, but for the final tweaking, it is far from precise. Still, for a good quick and dirty when there is nobody else around to tweak the alignment knobs for you, it saves a lot of back bending. I still get a precise alignment the old fashioned way, but I was expecting more out of this product. Besides the inherent design issues, I think Meade needs to work a little on their quality control, especially for something as simple as this. I am starting to think that it would be better to put it in some mounting rings and use it as a finder/pointer, but I already have a green laser for that.


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