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Hello everyone - Lots of questions from a newbie.

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#1 Panza

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:16 AM

Hello to everyone.
I have been reading a lot on this forum lately but eventually I had to register so that I could ask questions.
I am a real newbie to this. My background is a little wide-field astrophoto with my Canon Eos cameras on a tripod. I have also used a small refractor. I have now decided that I want to see and photograph more than what an SLR camera on a tripod can do. Then comes the questions. Initially I had my mind set on an 10" RCX400 but after reading a lot about it I figured it would be best to start with something a little more traditional: LX200R. Although the included heater and stuff on the RCX is surely nice, the main thing that scares me is the all-electronic focus and the return-to-Meade for repairs. That is not an option where I live. Let me know when I'm wrong in any assumptions I have made.
Then to the questions:
1. How do you mount the optical tube to the tripod on the LX200R ? Do you take the tube and fork off together or do you put the tube into the fork when the fork sits on the tripod ?
2. 12" or 10" ? I have read here that both a doable for set up for one person, but doable and easy is very different.
3. Reading about eyepieces I realized that it's not such a good idea to buy a set to start with due to the quality. Let's say I want three great eyepieces to start with: Which ones ?
4. What other accessories should I get ? I have already decided to get a wedge (Meade Ultrawedge?).
5. Do you need both a dewshield and a heater ?

Sigmund

#2 Ben Ritchie

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:27 AM

Hello Sigmund, welcome to CN!

1. You mount the tube and forks together. It is possible to remove the optical tube from the forks, but it is very difficult to put it back with the correct alignment.

2. My experience is that lifting a fork mounted 'scope in the dark and cold (maybe when you're tired) is much harder than lifting it in a telescope showroom, so you want a size that you can easily lift under normal conditions, not struggle with. To me that means the 8" or 10", the 12" is big, awkward and heavy. If you have a permanent setup then the 12" is really nice.

3. That's a topic all of its own. How much are you looking to spend? It varies a bit depending on the focal length of the telescope you choose, but if money was not a problem I would suggest the 12mm Nagler type-4, 20mm Nagler type-5 and 35mm Panoptic as a great set for a SCT. On more of a budget i'd suggest the 13mm and 21mm Baader Hyperions and 35mm Panoptic or 40mm Paragon.

4. If you're getting a wedge, then be aware it's even harder to mount the telescope on a wedge than on a tripod. So if you have doubts about a 12" on a tripod, the 12" on a wedge is probably too much. I would also suggest buying a better diagonal (I think the William Optics 2" diagonal is good and reasonably priced) and you may want to get counterweights to ensure the tube is well balanced.

5. Depends on how bad the dew is where you are. I find a dewshield good for cutting out stray light, but not great for preventing dew. I use both.

#3 Ben Ritchie

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:33 AM

One other thought, have you considered buying a LX200R tube and something like an EQ6 mount? It should be around the same price as the fork mounted LX200R with a wedge, but is better suited to imaging and means that you can switch between the SCT and a refractor if you want to.

#4 Tombstone Sky

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:38 AM

First, re 3. Eyepieces. Your scope is an f/10 'flat field' scope, aka 'slow' scope. You do not need Naglers, since their primary function is to reduce the edge-of-field aberrations inherent in a 'fast' scope (f/5 or so). You'll be paying for more than you'll be getting. Considerably more.

What bothers me most is you seem to have no provision for if it breaks. I, personally, would avoid this situation. Both the LX200 and RX are heavily dependent on electonics and drive train, and with no solution for breakdown, you'll be taking a mountain of risk (in my opinion) that I personally wouldn't take.

#5 Ben Ritchie

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:50 AM

First, re 3. Eyepieces. Your scope is an f/10 'flat field' scope, aka 'slow' scope. You do not need Naglers, since their primary function is to reduce the edge-of-field aberrations inherent in a 'fast' scope (f/5 or so). You'll be paying for more than you'll be getting. Considerably more.


You don't need Naglers, but the 20T5 is a wonderful eyepiece in a SCT (it's my workhorse eyepiece in my Mewlon, which is even slower at f/11.5) and an 82-degree AFOV is very nice with the limited FOV of a long focal length 'scope. Like I said though, it's the "money not a problem" choice.

#6 Panza

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 06:35 AM

So many answers in so little time. This is really great. Thank you for the warm welcome.

For Ben:
I haven't considered the EQ6 mount. It doesn't looks very stable to me - but I might off course be wrong here.
I am 99% sure I won't get another refractor, so for that purpose it's not a point for me.
I am leaning towards the 10" size. The point about lifting in a showroom VS in real conditions is not a small difference.
Although the eyepieces you suggested was a little expensive I think I will go with them, it will be cheaper in the long run I imagine.
I will get the diagonal too.

For Tombstone:
Let's hope it doesn't break, and if it does: There are places to fix it in Norway. I just meant that shipping it back to the US is not an option.

New question:
1. What heater is suitable (and good quality) for the 10" LX200R ?
2. Why is the EQ6 mount better suited for imaging ? Is it because of clearance ?
2. Should I get the Meade camera-mounts or another brand ?

#7 NeoDinian

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:14 PM

#2: An EQ mount is always better for imaging than a Fork mount... First, the fork mount has a slight vibration for some people. Second, for the price of buying the fork scope and a wedge, you can buy a quality GEM. Third, the GEM can be used for any scope, where you're limited to what you have with a fork-mounted scope, shy of piggybacking on it...

Depending on your budget, I would consider the EQ6 MINIMUM for a GEM and a 10" OTA. This allows you to add a small guide scope in the future... But you will be near or at the max limit of the mount for imaging...

IF you can do a higher budget, I would put more money into the MOUNT (GEM). If possible, get a CGE, or G11... You'll be better off in the end. :)

#8 Gerald in BC

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 07:40 PM

I have recently acquired a 250mm LX200R and EQ-6 mount and it must be really good since there has been many weeks of cloudy weather since I bought it!

I'm not really that far from Irvine California, but since it's in a different country and there are customs formalities I thought it best to separate out the eletronic and optical components. The EQ6 has all the motors and circuit cards in exactly two spots, one being the handset. Hopefully that helps reduce the risk of failure. At least the OTA has no electronics so no optical components are being sent around for electrical problems, should they occur.

All equitorial mounts are balanced, so the motors are not faced with anything but torsional enertia, whereas a fork is not necessarily balanced (there are kits), adding to the strain on the motors. I was also concerned about the torque on the RA axis of a fork on a wedge, especially since I'm a fair distance north. (You will need at a wedge for photography, although you could try a de-rotator)

An EQ mount also doesn't have a space limitation for cameras or large diagonals+eyepieces when pointing at zenith (or at the celestial pole if mounted on a wedge).

I use a Nikon D2x, a pretty heavy camera, behind the scope plus a 110mm Vixon cat as a guide scope, the EQ-6 Pro handles it without complaint. The only real problem is this rig really attracts those clouds!

Gerald

#9 Moggi1964

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 09:27 PM

For dew systems get the Dewbuster and dew-not strips in 10"; 1.25"; 2" and whatever size guidescope you have (50mm?).

I have found that system to work very well.

10" LX200R is a great scope and, though I am fork mounted, I would buy a GEM if I had the money; much much better for AP if that is your plan. Losmandy G11 maybe? They come up on the used market often.

YOu live in a beautiful part of the world BTW; I have seen Lillehammer from a distance and visited Bergen and Oslo and Flam. Oh happy days!

#10 Panza

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 03:25 AM

I can see the benefits of the EQ mounts now. I think I might go with that instead of the standard Meade fork.
I looked at the Losmandy site and the HGM Titan mount looked awfully nice, but the price of that was more than my entire budget so that is out - sadly..
The G-11 though is more within my budget but it is rated for a max load of 60lbs. The 10" LX200R OTA is 63lbs it seems (I might be wrong here though). When adding a camera, spotting scope etc I imagine it will be 75lbs at least. I have bought tripods for normal photo before that was too wimpy and won't do that again. So the question is: Is the G-11 big enough for the setup I'm planning ?
Thanks again for all the great answers.

#11 jrcrilly

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 04:51 AM

The G-11 though is more within my budget but it is rated for a max load of 60lbs. The 10" LX200R OTA is 63lbs it seems (I might be wrong here though).


63 pounds is way high for a 10" LX200R OTA; it'd be a little under 30 pounds (which is a good thing; mounts capable of a 75 pound imaging load are in a very different price class). Except for a few higher-end mount producers, the maximum capacity listed generally presumes visual use. In these cases, it's usual to derate by 50% to approximate imaging load. With camera, guidescope, and misc. hardware you'd be pushing the G-11 but perhaps not too severely.

#12 David Pavlich

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 09:32 AM

The G-11 though is more within my budget but it is rated for a max load of 60lbs. The 10" LX200R OTA is 63lbs it seems (I might be wrong here though).


63 pounds is way high for a 10" LX200R OTA; it'd be a little under 30 pounds (which is a good thing; mounts capable of a 75 pound imaging load are in a very different price class). Except for a few higher-end mount producers, the maximum capacity listed generally presumes visual use. In these cases, it's usual to derate by 50% to approximate imaging load. With camera, guidescope, and misc. hardware you'd be pushing the G-11 but perhaps not too severely.


John's right. I have a 12" OTA and it weighs 38lbs with nothing attached. I believe Jerry weighed his 14" at around 69lbs. The 16" comes in at a cool 125lbs. :shocked:

David

#13 Gerald in BC

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 09:59 AM

I took my OTA to my scales and found that it is a little bit over 13.5kg.

That includes 2 scope mounts, a Telrad base plate, the dovetail for the EQ mount (includes a sliding section to adjust dec. balance), and the front cover.

When I bought the EQ-6 Pro, it was intended for a smaller scope, and the Meade LX200R is heavier than other comparable scopes. I would prefer a beefier mount, but the only compromise I make for increased stability when using a camera is to not extend the legs at all. So far I've found atmospheric turbulance here is more troublesome than any weakness in the mount.

Gerald

#14 Panza

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 10:59 AM

Nothing like people weighting their scopes :) Thanks for the great help.
Even with a 12" at 38lbs I will have 10kg capacity left over for camera and misc other equipment.
Still wondering about that HGM Titan..

For John C:
"the maximum capacity listed generally presumes visual use. In these cases, it's usual to derate by 50% to approximate imaging load"
Do you mean that the actual capacity for photography will be 120lbs when it is stated to be 60lbs ? Or that it will be 30lbs for photography ?

#15 jrcrilly

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 11:05 AM

Do you mean that the actual capacity for photography will be 120lbs when it is stated to be 60lbs ? Or that it will be 30lbs for photography ?


The mount should be derated to 30 pounds for imaging.

#16 Panza

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 11:39 AM

Thank you. It makes sense now.
Is there any other EQ mounts beside the Losmandy HGM Titan that has a 50lbs+ photograpic load capacity ?

#17 jrcrilly

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 11:47 AM

Thank you. It makes sense now.
Is there any other EQ mounts beside the Losmandy HGM Titan that has a 50lbs+ photograpic load capacity ?


Three popular ones are the Takahashi NJP, Mountain Instruments MI-250, and Software Bisque's Paramount ME. The Tak EM-200 comes close at 40 pounds and the CGE might be in that neighborhood as well. I get good performance out of my LXD750 at 50 pounds but Meade never published a weight spec so I don't know whether I'm within specs or not. :foreheadslap:

#18 LLEEGE

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 12:01 PM

Less popular but able to carry 50+ lbs loads without batting an eye is the AP900GTO. :whistle:
Or its big brother, the 1200GTO.

#19 Joad

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 09:51 PM

Welcome aboard, Panza. Looks like you're getting a lot of the advice you need here and everyone will be eager to see your progress as an astrophotographer.

#20 Panza

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 02:27 AM

John C:
I meant something a little less expensive, but it might be so that a 50+ capacity tracking mounts just cost $6000+ ..

Those 900 and 1200 GTO' wasn't exactly cheap either :)

Is it really best to spend 3 times as much on the mount as on the OTA ? :confused:

Thank you Joad. This forum is more helpful than I ever dreamed about :)

#21 jrcrilly

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 07:30 AM

John C:
I meant something a little less expensive, but it might be so that a 50+ capacity tracking mounts just cost $6000+ ..


It's a pricy category. One can do a lot better if one can dispense with the goto computer and doesn't mind buying used gear. For example, the earlier, non-goto MI-250 has a good reputation for tracking with heavy loads and those can be found for $2500-$3000. I need something I can operate remotely so that won't do here. The other alternatives are to go ahead and load a mount down and see how it does or to move away from heavy imaging loads. I've been lucky with the "load it down and see how it does" routine here but I'm changing over to the biggest precision mount I'm willing to pay for and reducing my imaging load to what that will handle well.

#22 Panza

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 03:20 PM

I would be willing to get a used mount but there doesn't seem to any for sale of those mentioned.

This mount-problem makes me wonder what to do. Although I could get one of the big mounts it would be bring the total package about 50% over my planned budget. Any inspiration and/or views are very welcome :)

#23 LLEEGE

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 04:19 PM

You don't want to skimp on the mount. It is the most important part of the imaging system. Buy the best mount you can afford.

#24 David Pavlich

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 04:43 PM

I would be willing to get a used mount but there doesn't seem to any for sale of those mentioned.

This mount-problem makes me wonder what to do. Although I could get one of the big mounts it would be bring the total package about 50% over my planned budget. Any inspiration and/or views are very welcome :)


About the only advice is to be patient and wait for a used mount to show up. You'll save some astrodollars, but as has already been mentioned many times, it's not the inexpensive side of imaging, that's for sure!

David

#25 NeoDinian

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 05:23 PM

Problem is, once you buy one new, you'll find 10 of them for sale used at HALF what you just paid...

Some guy named Murphy proves this... :)


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