Some more quick follow-ups while trimming the hedges...
While it is obvious that Meade bought a Mach1GTO and reverse engineered it, there are quite a few differences once you get inside. I have no doubt that the mount head itself can handle the weight but I do have a concern about the pivot point for the alt adjustment as it seems much too narrow, even after their updated version, to provide a rock solid steady system. It's a bowling ball balanced on a wine glass.
I can't measure things remotely (1200 miles away), but I can definitely tell you the pivot point is rock solid, beefy, and is steady. No wiggling or wobbling (There are some technical terms!). I won't do Finite Element Analysis of the alt adjustment, nor generate the Von Mises Stresses, however I can say with certainty the Aluminum and stainless steel is sufficiently thick, and the surface area contact is sufficient, and supports the loads without a problem.
Thanks for your post. I agree but I think you chose the wrong Celestron product to compare.
CGE-PRO $4999. (Often goes on sale for 10% off when bundled with an EdgeHD OTA.)
Your choice: Starlight Xpress Lodestar monochrome or S-Big monochrome guide camera $595.00
Orion 80mm short tube refractor for autoguiding with rings and dovetail $200.00 (skip the auto guider camera)
Celestron Starsense for auto alignment and pointing. $329 (Coming July)
At this point you have:
Mount that is currently spec'd at
**Smooth** +/- 5 arc second typical unguided periodic error, which can be further reduced with PPEC
**Ed would know more about what can be realistically expected though as he often gets CGE-PRO mounts delivered straight from Celestron (On customers request) for hypertuning before he then sends them on to the customer. I'd be curious what the before and after typically is.
A more sensitive guide camera.
A light weight refractor that can be focused and pointed. However there could be added flexure above what the Starlock provides. I'd be curious if that is so.
Accurate pointing and alignment assist.
The All Star Polar Alignment routine that Celestron uses is already very accurate. When combined with a more accurate alignment with the Starsense, the polar alignment can be even closer. In my experience the ASPA has been very very close and drift alignment using any of several methods has typically verified that the ASPA is close enough.
Mature ASCOM drivers.
So what do we lose by not going with the LX850?
Internal cable routing
There are numerous other things being left out.
* The cost of the software integrating the entire system.
* Starlock's integrated DUAL guiding system.
* No need to tweak the scope - it really, really works off the pallet.
* GPS (yes folks can live with out it - and folks can live without a lot of things - but it is included)
* Vibration suppression pads
* The time it takes to integrate all the Celestron tools and other add ons, which are already there on the LX850, streamlined and automated (or manual if you like!).
* f/8 OTA out of the box (yes, you can do the faststar thing on the C14, but again that is an add on).
* Does the 1400 Come with a mirror lock and crayford focuser? This was not clear to me from their site? LX850 SCT OTA has this out of the box.
* LX850 supports Vixen AND Lomandsey dovetails at the same time. Yes, you can indeed mount TWO scopes AND the Starlock (with its two cameras/guiders/smarts) AND the finder. Pretty cool. Can CGE Pro do this?
I will double check my numbers, but it looks to me the LX850 comes in fully integrated and good to go out of the box direct from Meade for more than $1k cheaper than the Celestron. Certainly lower cost than the Mach 1 and other AP configurations.
What is still up in the air as far as I am concerned?
1) Does the drift alignment routine get it closer than ASPA? Just how accurate is it? Someone needs to use it and verify it with other means.
2) Does the auto calibration routine for the Starlock for setting the guide rates result in round stars? If not, how much tweaking is needed? Is it even close to start with? Would it be easier and more accurate to keep the Starlock guiding disabled and use something else? Would a different guide system work better?
3) What kind of native PE does the mount get on average? If we count both Jason and Andrew we are below 8 arc seconds on both. That pretty good I'd say but there is some debate on what the data is showing. As number 5 would say "Need Input!"
4) Related to number two, are owners of these mounts going to become frustrated with Starlock and end up using an OAG exclusively? If so, what is the point of this mount again?
Now having said all of this I have to say that just about everything I mentioned could be something that becomes better as time goes on as Meade tweaks things. ASCOM drivers are being written or at least in queue to be written *some day*. The drift alignment routine could be tweaked in a future firmware update and maybe the Starlock utility could be modified to display information about the drift alignment. The native PE could be brought down as manufacturing methods evolve. The Starlock auto calibration and guiding can also be tweaked and updated in the future.
If/when they merge with JOC and they get more money flowing, I'd expect that this may be a nice system to have at its price point. I just thing that *right now* it may not be and I still believe that more owners need to come forward and tell us about their mounts. Hopefully in July we'll see more.
How would you verify 1?
2) - I will check this out on round stars. However, why in the world would I turn off Starlock? If I am tracking to within 1 arcsecond for a 10-15 minute exposures I think I am all set! If not using Starlock why get the LX850?
3) Well, I hope others chime in. I am happy with my results. I will do the picture thing though to show nice microfine wiggly lines (there is another high tech term).
4) So far I am not frustrated at all with Starlock. I love it! Jason has had great success with it. Waiting for others, but so far, so good! The mount is good in its own right, however the magic of the LX850 is a highly integrated, flexible system that makes life real easy - and takes good picts for a reasonable cost!
ASCOM is not important to me at all yet, though when the observatory comes in (waiting on my POD MAX....!) I might need it there. Still, good Meade is working on it.
Drift alignment routine I hear works great. I will learn for myself next week, weather permitting.
Don't forget the user can tweak terms on Starlock, though code can always be updated.
BTW - I think I am part of this "new" batch, not the recalled units. I guess there were some subtle changes.
Back to yard work....