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RCX Bashing

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#26 JerryWise

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 09:04 PM

I feel qualified to have a position on this too. Since 1995 I have purchased the following from Meade:

ETX Spotter
ETX Astro
8" LX200
10" LX200

Last 18 months:
14" LX200
5" Achro LXD 75
SN-6
102ED and LXD650
RCX 10"

I have been a strong Meade supporter here on CN and other places. Never had much of a problem with any of the Meade products. (Tonight I just came in from a session with the C 9.25 and CGE. The Meade GOTO is just plain better.) Well, I have now had a chance to use Meade service. The RCX 10" hand box display (both the wireless and the wired versions) no longer displays.

When I got the RCX I went all in on the purchase since it was a new model scope. 3 year extended warranty along with 3 way shipping. In the last month and a half since the display died I have spent at least 30 minutes on hold in the queue 6 times waiting for a rep. When I did reach a rep they would say "yep, got to come back to the plant" and” I need to get with you on that shipping thing, give me your number". The scope still sits in the storage area waiting for the pickup.

I reached a rep tonight that seemed to know what he was doing, found all the paperwork we faxed in (two times) and said nothing had been done on it. They don't have email, the rep says they have an antiquated support computer system and you must fax correspondence.

Thank goodness the scopes are so good. (I use this service experience as a model for my support guys to case study.)

As a true Meade supporter and proud owner of a number of Meade products I can assure you, the Meade products are fine but urge you to only buy the ones that will not need service until Meade can upgrade their support systems. :roflmao:

#27 LittleDob

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 09:59 PM

Having never owned a Meade (I got a nice big C) my comments could righly be brushed aside, but I like that Meade has introduced products that are different and that seek to fit between the lower and upper ends. The RCX has features unheard of in other scopes (auto-collimation, built-in dew heater, etc), and offers better performance than an SCT, but less than an ultra-expensive unit. Then there is the DSI pro cameras - more than a point-and-shoot, but less than an SBIG. These are products that ellicit a response because they do push the price/performance ratio. Sure, they don't perform as well as the professional equipment costing many times more, but that is not their niche.

Jason

#28 bluesman

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 04:27 AM

I think most of the arguments come about because the folk that know a lot about scopes and scope design are taking the issue into the classroom so to speak. If someone posts a review and says the scope performs in manner X then its a fair point to contest that based on the design. We all offer advice to newbies on what can be expected from a particular scope based on the theory we have picked up in this hobby. We don't have to look through it to know the limitations that exist in most combinations of mirrors and lenses. Thats been the central issue (IMHO).

I'm a very happy owner of an LX200 myself so this isn't an anti Meade comment.

Ed

#29 jrcrilly

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 06:57 AM

I think most of the arguments come about because the folk that know a lot about scopes and scope design are taking the issue into the classroom so to speak. If someone posts a review and says the scope performs in manner X then its a fair point to contest that based on the design. We all offer advice to newbies on what can be expected from a particular scope based on the theory we have picked up in this hobby. We don't have to look through it to know the limitations that exist in most combinations of mirrors and lenses. Thats been the central issue (IMHO).


Hi, Ed.

Sure - those conversations take place on Cloudy Nights every day. Folks learn from them and nobody goes away angry. It's only when exaggeration, inaccuracy, or vitriol (or any combination thereof) replace useful information that the process becomes meaningless.

We've had a few incidents (not involving compound telescopes) where such conversations were beginning to head in that direction. Once the rules were explained folks conformed and the conversations became useful again.

#30 JerryWise

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 07:53 AM

Excellent stately points John. The attitude and information here is truly refreshing. The ability to learn is second to none on the net. Occasionally the opportunity for education takes a sharp turn.

Picture this. First day back from a vacation on a boat in a remote location. Piping hot coffee and sign on for a Cloudy Nights read. And then the opportunity for education suddenly hits. What first appears to be a word that can only describe a hair grooming product or verbiage used in drug litigation takes on a whole new meaning.

vitriol ?????????????????

Ref: MS Word Thesaurus

spleen, anger, wrath, ire, rage, temper, real hacked off

Over half a century of absorbing knowledge and I missed that one. But I have it now. Thanks.

But could I ask a question? In my post above I relate a service experience in a factual and, I think, an informational perspective. Over time my posting about Meade has been very positive (maybe to a fault). They have, for the money, fantastic products. In relating the service experience above my thoughts were to show there are strong Meade supporters that may have problems that sometimes go outside the window of good service and how they are addressed. You often see service related post quickly lose focus and drop into pages of (watch this) vitriol related posting. Mechanical things break and people working for support organizations will be people. Guidance in dealing with exceptions is helpful to us all. Could you reference or state the informal/formal guidelines for service related postings?

#31 jrcrilly

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 08:22 AM

Mechanical things break and people working for support organizations will be people. Guidance in dealing with exceptions is helpful to us all. Could you reference or state the informal/formal guidelines for service related postings?


Hi, Jerry.

I thought your post was very informative. Meade goofed and you lost the use of your telescope for longer than necessary because of that. Folks want to know about stuff like that; I know I do. Such posts can sometimes bring on a slew of "I had a problem, too" posts and a thread can go negative - but so long as it consists of the experiences of the posters there's nothing wrong with that. If they are angry and want to express that anger that's fine, too. I was definitely NOT referring to any recent CN traffic as vitriolic - that happens elsewhere.

What is frequently seen on other sites, though, does cross the line. Examples?

"Those guys at XYZ company are morons and/or criminals"

"Everything XYZ makes and/or sells is junk"

"My uncle's barber's exwife's son-in-law had one and it didn't work"

Specifically with the RCX we have seen the following misinformation:

"It has over 50% central obstruction so it's very poor visually"

"The fan sucks in mosquitoes"

"Most of them have had to be returned for service"

There's a pattern there. So long as folks tell others what they know or have experienced it's all good information. When they start making it up or repeating misinformation seen elsewhere it's just noise.

I know this thread began as a query about Meade bashing but it's not just Meade. CN definitely doesn't support ANY specific vendor or manufacturer. I think some folks may feel that we do, but as I see it the reasons for this are:

Meade gets more bashing than any other vendor so when we intervene we are seen to be defending Meade. Not so - bash someone else and we'll intervene there also.

I think some new folks may see me as a Meade supporter because of my sig line. Folks who have been around for a while probably know that I change gear about as often as I change my socks and although the current arsenal is heavy on Meade equipment that's unusual for me.

#32 JerryWise

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 08:52 AM

........ Folks who have been around for a while probably know that I change gear about as often as I change my socks .....


Thanks for the guidance John. I really would like to have the RCX back for the Mars opposition. I have a brand new Ultra Wedge sitting there waiting. For backup, a brand new derotator. (one of them will get the pictures for me, not taking a chance)

I too change equipment regularly and find the resale value for properly cared for equipment great. It's easy to find the answers for yourself when you change.

I think the examples above were very good. Much advice on the net is based on what has been read tempered with pre-conceived notions rather than acutal hands on. While this is fine it's when negative comments are based on the same porcess that infomation becomes less useful.

Thanks again.

#33 c131frdave

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 10:05 AM

The talk of the rave planetary views possible with an RCX were probably referring to my posts of a few months ago.

I jumped into this hobby in February thanks to the advice and guidance of John and some others. They suggested that I start with a Nexstar 11 SCT XLT, and I did. I must say that I truly loved this telescope. It was a fantastic instrument with stunning views. But-

When my 10" RCX showed up, the first think I looked at was Jupiter. What I saw truly and completely buried my NX11. The second or third night, I set up both scopes and used the same EPs and there really was no comparrison.

Some will say I had collimation problems, but remember that with my conditions in Pensacola, I can see M51 with both telescopes. Because my principal interest is photography, I collimate my telescopes every outing.

Irregardless, I put the NS11 up on the sales block, and a 20 year ameature astronomer chap showed up at my doorstep wanting to test her out. His brother was the proud owner of a LX200 12" UHTC, and my new fried was happy to report that my 11" Celestron clearly out-performed his brother's Meade. Perhaps his brother didn't understand the fine art of collimation- I don't know. But from the data I have, and from what people tell me face to face looking through the equipment, the RCX is a far superior instrument to the LX and the NS SCTs.

Central obstruction be ****- I could see the swirls in Jupiter's bands, my friends. I swear on a whole stack of bibles. My experience looking through various telescopes is limited to a Sam's Club junker, a Kmart junker, an achromatic 4 inch junker, a Orion ED80 refractor, a StellarVue 4 APO, a NS11 XLT, and a 10" RCX. Clearly- by wide margins, my RCX is king of this little hill.

As you can tell, I'm thrilled with mine (though I haven't seen her in almost three months..:nonono: ).

As far as the bashing goes- well, I think that just goes with the territory for the most part. Look at cars. Ever heard of Chevy vs Ford? How about rice burners vs American iron? I think that any time you have two or more mass producers of quality equipment (however you define quality), you will have it. When you throw in the much heralded "RC" designation it obviously gets amplified.

#34 JerryWise

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 10:25 AM

.............As you can tell, I'm thrilled with mine (though I haven't seen her in almost three months..:nonono: ).............


Dave, help out an RCX compatriot here. I really liked the RCX the short time it was working. I have the same results you have on Jupiter. I really want to set the 10" up beside my 9.25 but already know the RCX will take the contest. But thats a feeling, not a comparison. John says its ok to relate valid service incidents (as long as they are not vitalis in nature). Why 3 months?

#35 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 06:07 PM


When I got the RCX I went all in on the purchase since it was a new model scope. 3 year extended warranty along with 3 way shipping. In the last month and a half since the display died I have spent at least 30 minutes on hold in the queue 6 times waiting for a rep. When I did reach a rep they would say "yep, got to come back to the plant" and” I need to get with you on that shipping thing, give me your number". The scope still sits in the storage area waiting for the pickup.

I reached a rep tonight that seemed to know what he was doing, found all the paperwork we faxed in (two times) and said nothing had been done on it. They don't have email, the rep says they have an antiquated support computer system and you must fax correspondence.



I had to call them three times to arrange a pickup, but no one ever showed up to get the scope each of the three times. It sat broken for over a month. I finally gave up and called Meade back a 4th time. I finally got permission to send it back myself and they said they would reimburse me the standard freight shipping. After a few more calls I actually got a check back.

Call them back and see if they will just let you ship it and then get reimbursed. This worked for me.


Kirk

#36 JerryWise

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 09:23 PM

Thanks for the infor Ken.

I was getting a little edgy until I talked with this rep yesterday. I told him the problem, the number of calls, the reps name's that took the calls and how both the RCX and Wireless display (battery connections failed) had problems. I asked him for a supervisor and told him I really wanted to write an article about the RCX for Cloudy Nights. He cracked up. Was laughing so hard he couldn't talk. Finally calmed down enough to say "well this ought to make a good read for Meade" and then started laughing again. Then I started laughing. I said "I can't believe the support I have had so far on the RCX". Then.... I swear, he said "thats why I still have a vintage C8". Well that changed the whole conversation. He won. So as a last try at getting my point across I asked if the first rep. I spoke to was likely to walk into walls with the internal fog he was in. The guy said "yea, I can see that happening".

Well that fellow won me over. He went to work on the call tag and I think it will be fine now. But if not, it was worth talking to him anyway. I wasn’t going to post this but it is a true part of the support posting. (No names of course, the C8 thing might get him in Dutch.)

It looks like the support may be an area seeding some Meade bashing. It sure looks like 1970 communication technology in the service and support area along with 21st. century products. Even a basic Email system would go a long way toward customer satisfaction through better internal and external communication.

#37 jrcrilly

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 09:38 PM

It looks like the support may be an area seeding some Meade bashing. It sure looks like 1970 communication technology in the service and support area along with 21st. century products. Even a basic Email system would go a long way toward customer satisfaction through better internal and external communication.


I have found with both Meade and Celestron that there is tremendous variability in contact personnel. Some are far more helpful than others, and some are far more knowledgeable than others. That variability doesn't serve the manufacturers OR the end users well. I will say that I've never had what I would call a bad support experience with either of them once I got someone's attention. The smaller firms seem to be much more consistent and (fortunately) tend toward the helpful/knowledgeable end of the spectrum.

#38 rdjamieson

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 09:50 PM

I think Meade would do well to shift some of those Sky Assurance telemarketers (who have the reserve of Roseanne and the persistence of a starving fruitbat) over to the customer service lines. You do not have to read Meade oriented threads for long before recognizing a common complaint--calls to customer service all too often do not receive the appropriate follow up. I think that is a genuine problem with large outfits--their success tends to isolate the people who care most about the customer experience, and requires them to hire throngs of customer service folks who do not have the expertise or love for hobby and the equipment. IMHO, natch!

#39 snorkler

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 11:51 PM

Another reason the RCX400 hasn't started off well is Meade's notable lack of QC. My two Meade (non RCX) mounts had to be sent back because neither of them worked when I received them. I know, they're different, but from the same company. To its credit, Meade fixed them, but a little QC would have saved it money and saved me grief.

The first RCX400s seemed to share those family problems. Many users experienced a collimation shift every time they focused their scopes. Burnt circuit boards, no aftermarket wedges (a fork mount for a supposed astrophotography scope! - get real), made the initial buyers the beta testers for this scope. Not a sterling start for a $5000-16,000 scope line. While the RCX400 may prove to be a good scope eventually like the LX200 has proven to be, its teething problems keep me from buying one, and keep me from recommending one at this time.

#40 Clive Gibbons

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 07:57 AM

I think Meade would do well to shift some of those Sky Assurance telemarketers (who have the reserve of Roseanne and the persistence of a starving fruitbat) over to the customer service lines.


:funny:

Thanks, Ray.
You just made coffee squirt out of my nose... :grin:

#41 JerryWise

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 08:01 AM

.........Many users experienced a collimation shift every time they focused their scopes. Burnt circuit boards, no aftermarket wedges (a fork mount for a supposed astrophotography scope! - get real), made the initial buyers the beta testers for this scope.


I was not aware of problems of this magnitude. Is there a link to the actual users (hope it's not Yahoo, can't get into all the commercials Yahoo pounds you with)? I bought mine based on feedback here on CN. Since I have one I would like to communicate with the users not on CN having these problems.

The aftermarket wedges seemed no problem when I bought the scope (I have a drill :grin:). It mounted just fine on the wedge I welded up for the LX200 14". I do wish they would release an OTA only version at some point however. What is your assessment of the optical quality, focus, collimation and general look and feel of the RCX when you are observing with one? Does it come close to what they claim?

#42 jrcrilly

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 08:21 AM

This is interesting. I was not aware of problems of this magnitude. Is there a link to the actual users (hope it's not Yahoo, can't get into all the commercials Yahoo pounds you with)?


The most active one is here.

I imagine the Astromart fora and SAA get some of that traffic as well.

As I mentioned a couple of posts above, these second- or third-hand reports are low in information content and we don't encourage them here. Let's keep it to what we know so folks can have confidence in what they read here.

By the way - I remember the "burned circuit boards" story. The way I remember it, a user decided (for reasons never explained) to download firmware for a different telescope into an RCX. Not surprisingly, the board locked up and needed to be replaced. After a few retellings those details have been lost. That's why the original reports are more valuable than the retellings.

The collimation shift is interesting though the original reports are few rather than many.

#43 gordon

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 08:33 AM

I imagine that Issac newton got a bashing over his new telescope that he invented, especially from the refractor guys :smash:

#44 Clive Gibbons

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 08:55 AM

The collimation shift is interesting though the original reports are few rather than many.


As reported by Dr. Clay Sherrod in another forum:

"We have worked with five
scopes now, two
10's, 2-12's and one 14, and in all cases the collimation is badly distorted
when changing focal
planes over a large distance."

YMMV.

#45 jrcrilly

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 09:12 AM


The collimation shift is interesting though the original reports are few rather than many.


As reported by Dr. Clay Sherrod in another forum:

"We have worked with five
scopes now, two
10's, 2-12's and one 14, and in all cases the collimation is badly distorted
when changing focal
planes over a large distance."

YMMV.


Hi, Clive.

That counts as either one or five reports. Their credibility is unusually high because Doc Clay knows what he's doing and if he says he sees something I believe it. What I don't get is that I'm not seeing this generally reported.

#46 Clive Gibbons

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 09:57 AM

Hi, Clive.

That counts as either one or five reports. Their credibility is unusually high because Doc Clay knows what he's doing and if he says he sees something I believe it. What I don't get is that I'm not seeing this generally reported.


Ji John.
It's worth checking out the Yahoo RCX forum, in spite of the pop-ups and other stuff.
Dr. Clay posts a lot of info to that group.
He reports Meade isn't shipping any RCX's at this point, until firmware is fixed and other issues are addressed.
He thinks this embargo won't last too long, though.

Cheers,

Clive.

#47 jrcrilly

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 10:31 AM

Ji John.
It's worth checking out the Yahoo RCX forum, in spite of the pop-ups and other stuff.
Dr. Clay posts a lot of info to that group.


Hi, Clive.

I do read that Group daily. Between Doc G. and Doc Clay there's plenty of useful information. There's plenty of noise there also, of course! ;)

#48 JerryWise

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 12:20 PM

...............As I mentioned a couple of posts above, these second- or third-hand reports are low in information content and we don't encourage them here. Let's keep it to what we know so folks can have confidence in what they read here.

............... After a few retellings those details have been lost. That's why the original reports are more valuable than the retellings.

The collimation shift is interesting though the original reports are few rather than many.



Well said........... (again)

I did not worry too much about collimation shift over long focal length (screw transients?) changes. If I understand this correctly, when the jack screws are used to move the corrector/lens from one extreme position to the other the collimation may shift a bit. I wrote that off to machining of the jack screws just as worm gears have a bit of dissimilarity. May be all off on this but that was my thoughts. It could certainly be fixed with pulse compensation to the motors but, one would think, each system would have to be trained and retrained over time to achieve this level of perfection. With the precision required of these optics, this could be expecting too much at this price point. In an imaging session a quick check of collimation and focus when the camera is set was all I was using

#49 WebFoot

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 01:46 PM

Another reason the RCX400 hasn't started off well is Meade's notable lack of QC. My two Meade (non RCX) mounts had to be sent back because neither of them worked when I received them. I know, they're different, but from the same company. To its credit, Meade fixed them, but a little QC would have saved it money and saved me grief.

The first RCX400s seemed to share those family problems. Many users experienced a collimation shift every time they focused their scopes. Burnt circuit boards, no aftermarket wedges (a fork mount for a supposed astrophotography scope! - get real), made the initial buyers the beta testers for this scope. Not a sterling start for a $5000-16,000 scope line. While the RCX400 may prove to be a good scope eventually like the LX200 has proven to be, its teething problems keep me from buying one, and keep me from recommending one at this time.

True all (except what's wrong with a fork mount for astrophotography? I vastly prefer fork mounts to GEMs). Meade goofed with this release, IMO. I really love my RCX400, but Meade made some unnecessary decisions here: Not all bugs had been worked out, obviously; they didn't set up a network of aftermarket support, for things like rails and wedges; their QC seems to have been atrocious, even by their standards.

They are making good on the problems. This is a very fine scope, and I have full confidence that they will get it right quite soon, but they needn't have given more ammunition to their detractors.

#50 WebFoot

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 01:55 PM

The collimation shift comes in two flavors of which I am aware. One is that reported by Clay, in which a long focus change, at high speed, causes some loss of collimation. This is not a big problem, because collimation is so easy to fix, and one can choose to move the focus at slower speeds to work around the problem.

The worse problem, which I experienced in my first RCX400, was that, for no apparent reason, when I asked the scope to change focus, one of the focusing screws would keep moving, threatening to damage the scope, and making the scope unusable in any event. This is not widespread, to the best of my knowledge, but others have reported it, also.

I believe that Meade is aware of both issues.


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