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Meade LX600-ACF 12" f/8 or CPC1100

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#1 WardyNew

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 04:34 PM

Looking at buying either the 12" LX600 or the CPC1100 but torn between the two. Have tried to lift the OTA on Meade LX600 as don't have observatory set-up but is v heavy even with split fork (although do have an engine crane which could do it!). Also some concerns from reading various blogs about reliability with Meade on new products. Furthermore, not sure which is best and exactly the benefits of each (different answer from each shop...are celestrong HD optics really better than Meade ACF for imaging?). Would appreciate any honest input / comparisons / pros & cons from those here more knowledgeable than me (probably everyone)!

Thanks

#2 WardyNew

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 04:35 PM

Should have said, looking at CPC1100 HD with wedge and LX600 with wedge.

#3 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 05:29 PM

First off I came very close to purchasing the larger sister to the 1100, the 1400HD, but in the end picked the LX850 for some of the similar reasons listed below (there were others related to the class of instrument). If I were in your shoes I would take the LX600 over the CPC 1100 GPS for the following reasons:

* Faster optics out the gate - f/8 vs. f/10.
* Reliability has been excellent with the LX600 and LX850. (This will set off a fire storm on CN!). Let me turn it around a different way - no one has firm statistics for either Meade or Celestron, but I can say nearly everyone has been very satisfied with their LX600 and LX850. Any problems have been remedied immediately by Meade (and I would imagine the same for Celestron).
* Views are wonderful out my ACF OTA - absolutely stunning! Several folks have taken great picts with their LX600 and LX850s optically speaking.
* Customer service has been fine in my book. You can call Meade direct and you will get a human that will help you out if there are any problems. Give them a call!
* Yes, a bit heavier but more stable, less vibration.
* I love the split fork mount on the LX600 - makes life easier with this heavier system.
* Starlock - this is the real deal. Even with all the add ons with the CPC, you will still not have a dual controller for guiding and all the features of StarLock. To even get close you will need to add a computer in the loop and optional software. Not needed with the LX600 with StarLock. Guiding spot on, gotos spot on, automatic drift alignment with StarLock per the specs. Alignment is really fast and easy with StarLock. High Precision pointing - wonderful! Oh, for me all this worked right out of the box, except for initially I forgot to take off the lens caps! Once I did this, all was well! Think of this comparison - you setup your LX600 with StarLock, turn on and you are good to go. Celestron? Add guiders, add a laptop, add extra cables, add software - more time, cost and steps involved while the LX600 is observing away AND still has more features than the Celestron kit. So the question is, how valuable is your time? Do you want to spend more of it doing the setup process?
* I kept reading about folks Celestron hand controllers dying and always keeping a spare. Never had to do this with Meade in my 22 years.
* Excellent focuser out the box with the LX600 - 2 speed crayford like focuser. This is an add-on for the Celestron (after market). No need do this on the Meade.
* Mirror Lock on the LX600, though it appears this is on the CPC 1100 GPS.

Well that is my short list. I have been very happy with my LX850 optics (not happy with the Monsoons in New Mexico blocking my observing, except for ending the drought nearly); everyone seems to be very happy with their LX600.

FWIW, I have offered a comparative shootout with the Celestron 1400HD and the AP Mach 1 with a similar OTA, but no one has taken me up on this. Weather permitting, it will be in October, likely against card board cutouts.

My vote right now - Meade LX600.

In the end though try and see if you can try out both units side by side - and have fun!


#4 Bluto69

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 06:12 PM

I have the 10" LX600. I was one of the few that had some initial issues with it but Meade fixed it. Working great now.
Even the 10" is a beast but the views are fantastic. No regrets so far.

Terry

#5 gmartin02

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 06:22 PM

* I kept reading about folks Celestron hand controllers dying and always keeping a spare. Never had to do this with Meade in my 22 years.

Now please, please, please...no drama folks!


Well, with exaggerated statements like this, you are sure to stir up some drama, not to mention giving misinformation to potential buyers. You have also mentioned this in your previous posts.

The Celestron HC issues are for a small percentage of the Nexstar+ hand controllers, and mostly just for the AVX mounts. This issue has already been addressed by Celestron, so should no longer be a problem (unless buying an AVX mount that still has the original one in the box, which Celestron will swap the HC for a new one for no charge). The only user that I have noticed on CN forums that is talking about buying an extra Celestron HC is Whichwayisnorth.

I have used a Nexstar HC for 5 years that came with my AS-GT mount without a single problem (during hundreds of observing sessions), and have also used a Nexstar HC for about a year and a half that came with my CGEM without a single problem (during dozens of observing sessions), and I would never think of buying a spare HC, because there is no reason to do this.

#6 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 06:35 PM


* I kept reading about folks Celestron hand controllers dying and always keeping a spare. Never had to do this with Meade in my 22 years.

Now please, please, please...no drama folks!


Well, with exaggerated statements like this, you are sure to stir up some drama, not to mention giving misinformation to potential buyers. You have also mentioned this in your previous posts.

The Celestron HC issues are for a small percentage of the Nexstar+ hand controllers, and mostly just for the AVX mounts. This issue has already been addressed by Celestron, so should no longer be a problem (unless buying an AVX mount that still has the original one in the box, which Celestron will swap the HC for a new one for no charge). The only user that I have noticed on CN forums that is talking about buying an extra Celestron HC is Whichwayisnorth.

I have used a Nexstar HC for 5 years that came with my AS-GT mount without a single problem (during hundreds of observing sessions), and have also used a Nexstar HC for about a year and a half that came with my CGEM without a single problem (during dozens of observing sessions), and I would never think of buying a spare HC, because there is no reason to do this.



Gmartin02 (not to be confused with gmartin01),

I could swear I have read numerous times Celestron users have advised keeping a spare hand controller with them due to failure issues, which seemed odd to me. I am out and about right now, but I will dig up the links when I get home. All I know I kept reading that and it spooked me.

Stay tuned...

#7 Raginar

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 06:37 PM

The AVX had quite awash of them initially.

#8 Stew57

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 07:20 PM

There was a time period that a bad batch of HCs went out. I got a bad one one with my CGEM a few years back, it lasted 1 session. Celestron sent a new one out shipping paid. Never had another problem. I have not been silent about the problems with my mounts nor the inherent weaknesses of them. I wish others would be also when discussing mounts I may be interested in purchasing. When the weaknesses are not revealed it makes me hesitant. There are some rumors about the insides of the LX850. Have you seen any pictures of one disassembled? It would answer some questions.

Back on topic;

The LX600 looks very nice. I don't think it would be portable for me, but then again the Celestron offering on a wedge would not be either. I am not sure I am a fan of the F8 optics, especially for planetary. One can always add a reducer. The Celestron offering also allows for faststar. I would have to look through the Meade F8 and compare before I have a definitive opinion. What would give me pause is the Meade situation. After spending that kind of money, I would want to make sure I could get repairs and parts even after the warranty period. Meade has not had a stellar record for selling parts in the past.

#9 jrcrilly

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 07:45 PM

There are some rumors about the insides of the LX850. Have you seen any pictures of one disassembled?


Internet rumors don't generally have much credibility. I've seen that comment only once but it was by a competing mount vendor; dunno how he would seen the insides of one of these. I haven't seen the innards of mine because mine has performed flawlessly so far.

#10 gmartin02

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 07:49 PM

Celestron definitely has a big advantage when needing parts for out of warranty older mounts. They sell motors, motor covers, control boards, and other parts for many older models that are no longer sold.

I accidentally cracked the screw attachment points on the Dec motor cover of my AS-GT about a year ago by over tightening the screws. I just went to the Celestron parts online web store, ordered the half of the Dec motor cover I needed for $15, got it in about 2 days after ordering it, bolted it on, and now it is as good as new.

#11 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 08:05 PM


* I kept reading about folks Celestron hand controllers dying and always keeping a spare. Never had to do this with Meade in my 22 years.

Now please, please, please...no drama folks!


Well, with exaggerated statements like this, you are sure to stir up some drama, not to mention giving misinformation to potential buyers. You have also mentioned this in your previous posts.

The Celestron HC issues are for a small percentage of the Nexstar+ hand controllers, and mostly just for the AVX mounts. This issue has already been addressed by Celestron, so should no longer be a problem (unless buying an AVX mount that still has the original one in the box, which Celestron will swap the HC for a new one for no charge). The only user that I have noticed on CN forums that is talking about buying an extra Celestron HC is Whichwayisnorth.

I have used a Nexstar HC for 5 years that came with my AS-GT mount without a single problem (during hundreds of observing sessions), and have also used a Nexstar HC for about a year and a half that came with my CGEM without a single problem (during dozens of observing sessions), and I would never think of buying a spare HC, because there is no reason to do this.



Here we go...here was a recent quote on this.

http://www.cloudynig...5638187/page...

Plus I will defer to everyone else's response on the hand controller...

#12 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 08:10 PM

Celestron definitely has a big advantage when needing parts for out of warranty older mounts. They sell motors, motor covers, control boards, and other parts for many older models that are no longer sold.

I accidentally cracked the screw attachment points on the Dec motor cover of my AS-GT about a year ago by over tightening the screws. I just went to the Celestron parts online web store, ordered the half of the Dec motor cover I needed for $15, got it in about 2 days after ordering it, bolted it on, and now it is as good as new.



Though I will say if you need spare parts for your NEW LX600 you (and Meade) are in trouble.

I have found for certain current products parts are available from Meade, but again I would hope you would not need one. And if you do need one out the gate, Meade will supply the spare part, since that would be under warranty.

I will not speculate how the new Meade plans to handle spare parts in the future.

#13 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 08:39 PM

There was a time period that a bad batch of HCs went out. I got a bad one one with my CGEM a few years back, it lasted 1 session. Celestron sent a new one out shipping paid. Never had another problem. I have not been silent about the problems with my mounts nor the inherent weaknesses of them. I wish others would be also when discussing mounts I may be interested in purchasing. When the weaknesses are not revealed it makes me hesitant. There are some rumors about the insides of the LX850. Have you seen any pictures of one disassembled? It would answer some questions.

Back on topic;

The LX600 looks very nice. I don't think it would be portable for me, but then again the Celestron offering on a wedge would not be either. I am not sure I am a fan of the F8 optics, especially for planetary. One can always add a reducer. The Celestron offering also allows for faststar. I would have to look through the Meade F8 and compare before I have a definitive opinion. What would give me pause is the Meade situation. After spending that kind of money, I would want to make sure I could get repairs and parts even after the warranty period. Meade has not had a stellar record for selling parts in the past.



I would be petrified to disassemble my LX850 and take pictures of the guts. Mine is working flawlessly (when clear outside, lol :cloudy:); dissection might do great bodily harm to it. :jawdrop:

I don't think there will be a firm answer on the "Meade Situation" for quite some time. What can be said is they are building and selling LX600s, they still service equipment they sell, and there appears to be a significant demand for LX600s and LX850s. How long does one wait for a new LX600, I have no clue (I think under 10 years last I heard). Will production go up? Who knows? Down? Who knows? Will Santa Claus help out - maybe, if you believe in Santa.

Fastar is nice, and a lot of folks swear by it, however it is a pricey add on. I am not an expert on this. When swapping back and forth on Fastar does one have to collimate every time? I personally was not comfortable swapping out the secondary and fastar all the time. The MallinCam Reducers do work great on the ACF for video; I hope to test out some focal reducers on my Meade this fall/winter for astrophotography, likely units from AP (FYI - have ordered field flatteners for the Meade APOs. I hope to test those in the next couple of weeks).

Again, as stated several times, take a look through both the Celestron and the Meade and compare (plus it is always fun looking through lots o' telescopes). For me, I am very satisfied with the view visually and for video astronomy with my Meade optics. I will be doing more test runs with my Canon 60Da when I get home, however others have taken some great photos via the Meade f/8 ACF.

If you do get a chance to try a few out and compare let us know your results!

#14 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 09:08 PM

The only user that I have noticed on CN forums that is talking about buying an extra Celestron HC is Whichwayisnorth.


I did? I don't recall saying that but it sounds very wise so it must be true. ;)

Always a good idea, if they are affordable, to have an extra HC. Wires could break, you could drop it one too many times and smash the display, you could spill coffee on the buttons...

As for which system I'd want? Whichever I could afford and have a little left in my pocket for eyepieces and accessories. Are you going to move it around a lot? Then go for the lighter, easier to manage option. Going to keep it assembled and put it on top of some JMI wheelie bars or scope buggy? That solves the weight issues.

#15 David Pavlich

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 10:15 PM

I'm waiting for some reviews of imagers using the 600 w/wedge. The idea of horizon to horizon imaging with no flip is intriguing.

David

#16 rmollise

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 07:01 AM

I did? I don't recall saying that but it sounds very wise so it must be true. ;)

Always a good idea, if they are affordable, to have an extra HC. Wires could break, you could drop it one too many times and smash the display, you could spill coffee on the buttons...


Bingo. I've never had a failed NexStar HC. Do I have an extra with me when I go to distant star parties? Danged right. ;)

#17 Starhawk

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 08:27 AM

Actually, this is more to do with upgrades which result in you getting an extra hand control. Celestron first had a major upgrade from the original NexStar controllers to the series 4.xx version with upgradeable flash memory. I wound up with two extra hand controllers that way. So, I've mentioned on CN I had a spare if needed. It never has been. Since then, the NexStar+ and StarSense have added more hand controllers, so people adopting these are finding they have more spares in the form of original hand controllers.

Yet, these things don't seem to fail at all, and more recently I've begun to regard these more as claptrap taking up space than useable spares, since I've had three cars in the time I've had five different hand controllers, which, just like the mounts, none has ever failed.

So let's set this phantom issue aside.

-Rich


* I kept reading about folks Celestron hand controllers dying and always keeping a spare. Never had to do this with Meade in my 22 years.

Now please, please, please...no drama folks!


Well, with exaggerated statements like this, you are sure to stir up some drama, not to mention giving misinformation to potential buyers. You have also mentioned this in your previous posts.

The Celestron HC issues are for a small percentage of the Nexstar+ hand controllers, and mostly just for the AVX mounts. This issue has already been addressed by Celestron, so should no longer be a problem (unless buying an AVX mount that still has the original one in the box, which Celestron will swap the HC for a new one for no charge). The only user that I have noticed on CN forums that is talking about buying an extra Celestron HC is Whichwayisnorth.

I have used a Nexstar HC for 5 years that came with my AS-GT mount without a single problem (during hundreds of observing sessions), and have also used a Nexstar HC for about a year and a half that came with my CGEM without a single problem (during dozens of observing sessions), and I would never think of buying a spare HC, because there is no reason to do this.



Gmartin02 (not to be confused with gmartin01),

I could swear I have read numerous times Celestron users have advised keeping a spare hand controller with them due to failure issues, which seemed odd to me. I am out and about right now, but I will dig up the links when I get home. All I know I kept reading that and it spooked me.

Stay tuned...



#18 Jon_Doh

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 09:24 AM

I just sent a new AVX back. It had severe hand controller and/or software issues.

#19 Starhawk

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 03:06 PM

Like what?

-Rich

#20 WardyNew

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 03:54 PM

Thanks for coming back on this so promptly. When you mentioned that Starlock is the real deal, could you explain the advantages over guidescope + autoguider? Sorry if this is a bit ignorant but one of the shops that quite strongly advised on getting the Celestron seemed to be saying that it was basically just an autoguider, although he did also say that for a big aperature I should go for CGEM for lightness but seems to me like a lot of set-up which I didn't really want vs. fork mount / wedge.

Understand I then have to set it all up but assume can then leave attached and in terms of cost, shopping around there seems to be a shop that sells CPC1100HD + Guidescope & Autoguider, StarSense and SkyQ link (which like idea of) for same price as LX600 + XWedge in the UK. Also, mentioning StarSense, does this even up the pros/cons of Starlock vs. Celestron autoguider package? Not favouring one over the other (originally, had my heart set on LX600 and part of me still is) but just wondered what the difference is. Haven't done imaging before but want a telescope that I can grow into and do imaging with as gain experience. I intend on having it for a good long time with this level of spend.

Hope I'm not driving everyone nuts with daft questions. Weight and the wait for LX600 to come out when Meade was having worst of its financial difficulties + talk from some vendors about the advantage of the flat HD optics from Celestron for imaging is what sent me wavering on decision!

Would like to get a look through both but not many LX600s in the UK yet and had no look at recent astronomy festival and also struggling to get hold of anyone to join local astronomy club.

Thanks again for any further elaboration on above or further advice on the 2 telescopes generally.

#21 jrcrilly

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 04:28 PM

one of the shops that quite strongly advised on getting the Celestron seemed to be saying that it was basically just an autoguider,


That indicates a lack of familiarity with Starlock. Guiding is only one of its functions.

Also, mentioning StarSense, does this even up the pros/cons of Starlock vs. Celestron autoguider package?


The potential is there. As currently implemented it is only an alignment aid but the hardware should be able to do more. If Celestron were to use the Starsense hardware to implement high precision pointing it would probably achieve similar functionality of the widefield portion of Starlock. No idea whether they plan to do that, though.

If they do catch up on the widefield functionality in that way, an add-on guider will still fall a bit short of the functionality of Starlock's narrow field camera (full hands-off guider calibration, auto drift alignment).

You can do everything that Starlock does with the addition of enough external hardware and software and additional effort. I used to do that. It is nice to let it all just happen instead.

#22 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 05:15 PM

Thanks for coming back on this so promptly. When you mentioned that Starlock is the real deal, could you explain the advantages over guidescope + autoguider? Sorry if this is a bit ignorant but one of the shops that quite strongly advised on getting the Celestron seemed to be saying that it was basically just an autoguider, although he did also say that for a big aperature I should go for CGEM for lightness but seems to me like a lot of set-up which I didn't really want vs. fork mount / wedge.

Understand I then have to set it all up but assume can then leave attached and in terms of cost, shopping around there seems to be a shop that sells CPC1100HD + Guidescope & Autoguider, StarSense and SkyQ link (which like idea of) for same price as LX600 + XWedge in the UK. Also, mentioning StarSense, does this even up the pros/cons of Starlock vs. Celestron autoguider package? Not favouring one over the other (originally, had my heart set on LX600 and part of me still is) but just wondered what the difference is. Haven't done imaging before but want a telescope that I can grow into and do imaging with as gain experience. I intend on having it for a good long time with this level of spend.

Hope I'm not driving everyone nuts with daft questions. Weight and the wait for LX600 to come out when Meade was having worst of its financial difficulties + talk from some vendors about the advantage of the flat HD optics from Celestron for imaging is what sent me wavering on decision!

Would like to get a look through both but not many LX600s in the UK yet and had no look at recent astronomy festival and also struggling to get hold of anyone to join local astronomy club.

Thanks again for any further elaboration on above or further advice on the 2 telescopes generally.




Whew, where do I begin?!?! Lot's o' questions!

Let me start with the simple one - SkyQ. The alternative for the Meade LX600 (and Celestron, and iOptron, and...etc) is SkyFi and SkySafari. When in the home, group function or just when I want to have fun I control my telescope wirelessly throughout my property (1 acre). Just tap on the screen of my iPad or iPhone (or even MacBook, or Android), and the telescope moves right to the spot you selected! It works perfectly with StarLock and its high precision pointing. Other advantages - SkyFi/SkySafari work on several different mounts. I believe SkyQ only works on Celestron.

StarLock is more than just an autoguider. Some items of note with StarLock:

* It is a "dual observer" guide scope (i.e. two guide scopes) system - one narrow field and one wide field (you can learn more about "observers" under control systems theory if you are so inclined!). This provides highly accurate guiding and assists in precise gotos, and makes the process very easy. Currently this is available no where else. Yes, you can buy two guidescope-camera systems, but currently no PC application supports the dual observer control functionality. Some folks say Off-axis guiding is the best way to go for the best astrophotography, and I have seen some wonderful images done this way, however several amazing images have been taken with StarLock based telescopes. Of course OAGs have their issues and challenges.
* StarLock provides high precision pointing - HPP (+/- 1 arc minute)/excellent gotos. I can attest StarLock meets this spec. I have not found a similar spec on the Celestron website or user manual for StarSense so I have no clue as to its precision.
* StarLock provides automatic drift alignment, necessary for precise polar alignment and astrophotography. This is really cool and really works. StarSense does not provide this. Of course you do this manually (painful in my book). Automatic drift alignment in StarLock makes child's play of this process.
* Starlock with the telescope supports the Park position. Turn off your telescope, cover it up and go to bed. When you come back and turn it on, your LX600 will work out the gate without having to re-align it!
* Starlock also supports numerous other alignment methods and does things fast. I am up and running and going with HPP within 5-10 min. Coming back from the park position? Instantaneous!
* You can very easily sync StarLock with your camera and eyepiece.
The list goes on...

If the shop said StarLock was just basically an auto guider, they are not very knowledgeable.

Basically StarLock beats feature wise and ease of use wise the StarSense/Autoguider/GPS/added cables/computer/software add-on combo.

The LX600/LX850 system is highly flexible and you can automate or tweak as much as you want. The StarLock based LX600 and LX850 telescopes provide excellent turnkey solutions.

Weight? Light weight has its advantages, but I like the stability and loooow vibration of my heavier telescope. Folks have their preferences. This is for you to decide.

Like I said, visually the view through the Meade AND photographically are stunning. I personally prefer the f/8 vs. f/10 baseline optics. Again, there is Fastar for an added cost and of course the extra work to set-up and take down and re-collimate every time , but many swear by that. Just not my cup of tea.

Oh, I too like the idea of no meridian flips with the LX600. It is a great kit for visual and astrophotography in my book.

BTW - when I FINALLY get back home to New Mexico AND when the monsoon rains are done, I hope to post videos via the MallinCam of StarLock in action. It is really cool!

#23 William Mc

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 05:53 PM

I too debated between Meade and Celestron when buying my first SCT. I really wanted The Meade as the fork mount just looked more professional than the Cheaper looking Plasticy CPC. But then I saw the post on this very forum with pics of a OTA that was just purchased from Meade directly. The OTA was just thrown in a over sized box with no packing! OMG! It was just rolling around in there freely.
That's all needed needed to know.

#24 Stew57

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 05:55 PM

Celestron's pointing spec for standard hand controller.
http://urlm.in/lban

How is your F8 optics on planetary? does the large obstruction soften the views more than the F10?

#25 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 06:08 PM

I too debated between Meade and Celestron when buying my first SCT. I really wanted The Meade as the fork mount just looked more professional than the Cheaper looking Plasticy CPC. But then I saw the post on this very forum with pics of a OTA that was just purchased from Meade directly. The OTA was just thrown in a over sized box with no packing! OMG! It was just rolling around in there freely.
That's all needed needed to know.


Um that is beyond nonsense. Shipping a telescope that tolls around????

I have purchased several telescopes this year all extremely and massively well packed. I can even show pictures.

Same for the Lx600.

I declare shenanigans on this. Send me the link, and description why this one individual had a highly suspect packaging experience.

And how did this freely rolling telescope survive?


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