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"my" CPC 1100- experience and impressions...

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#1 Paul McC

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:12 PM

This was actually first posted on the CPC Yahoo Group, but since finding this forum, I thought some here might like the info in that posting:

Well, it was a good day and a bad day at the scope shop. (Skies
Unlimited in Glenmoore, PA.)

First the good news- I LOVE THIS SCOPE! :)
Now the bad news- it's going back to Celestron... :(

What I like- the scope is incredibly light! It supposedly weighs 65 lbs, but you could've fooled me. I lift weights, but (as clearly
visible in my photos posted here- see "Paul McC's CPC 1100XLT") I'm no body builder- I don't find hefting 70 lbs around fun or anything like
that. I'm more an active couch potato then an Ahhnold!

Clearly, the scope's ergonomic lift handles play a large part in making it seem lighter. This was true of the NS11 as well- but since
the OTA of the CPC is all aluminum rather then carbon fiber, I had a feeling the CPC would feel heavier somehow. If anything, it strikes
me as being a bit lighter then the NS11. I was amazed- I carried it outside and inside and was able to wait until the tripod was in place
in comfort. As long as you are reasonably healthy, I can't see any reason why this scope would cause a problem as far as it's weight.

Anyway, the first thing we did was unpack the scope and inspect it- I noticed some scratches around the base (the silver saucer) and also
some worn paint spots- this was troubling. I wouldn't drive a car off the lot with the paint job on this base. But I was willing to give
that a pass if everything else was okay (it's not like there's a 100 CPC 1100's on the shelf- anywhere- if you know what I mean).

The scope nestled on it's tripod very easily- it's remarkable how well thought out this tripod is- it's still beyond me why Meade can't do
this the same way. The tripod looks different from the one that comes with the CPC 800; it's spreader is bigger and heavier looking. One
important note though- there's NO bubble level in this tripod's top- I was disappointed in this as the Sky & Telescope review said that
leveling the scope was extremely important for it's alignment methods to work- and they really liked this thoughful gesture on Celestron's
part. So much for that.

We plugged in the hand controller (HC) and threw on the power switch (we had it plugged into a fully charged Celestron 17AH battery) and...
nothing happened. This was troublesome- the LED on the base showed power was on- and the HC backlighting was on- but there was no
readout. Being the computer geek that I am (a man of many hobbies...) I decided to reboot the HC by turning the power on and off. Walla!
Power and a readout this time on the HC. YAY!

After trying to see if it would link in the store (the newer Meade scopes do- so we thought we'd see if the CPC would as well) and
getting nowhere, we disassembled the scope and took it out to the parking lot (see photos). After powering up (which was fine) we still
kept getting the "GPS linking" message. A quick call to Celestron confirmed that it can take up to 45 minutes for the link to occur- but
actually within 15 minutes or so, in an area with buildings and trees blocking significant portions of the sky, the GPS linked! Hooray!

Now we tried some alignments- being that it was daytime, we lied to the scope and did a one star alignment on Polaris' approximate
position- the scope did it's thing within seconds and was ready to go about the sky. I chose Venus, Mercury and M81- and the scope moved to
each in about the right areas of the sky (note, we still hadn't placed any eps in the scope- we were just checking the mechanics at this
point- for all I know, all those objects may have been in the FOV!).

Then we noticed the (sigh) problem- while the scope spun around clockwise (to the right) at certain points in the slew- the base began
emitting a tapping sound (the azimuth axis). Once the scope turned past this one side, the tapping would cease. If you slewed the scope
back over the area to the left, there was no noise- but upon going right again- once the scope was oriented where the tapping was before-
you would hear it again.

We tried everything we could to rememdy this- tightening and loosening and retightening the clutch- dismounting the OTA/fork and
remounting it on the tripod, etc. Nothing worked to resolve this. If we loosened the clutch and spun the scope back and forth manually,
there was no noise in either direction- it was definitely something in the gears/motors on the AZ axis.

The fork drives - that is, in Alt, btw- worked perfectly and quietly as did the AZ axis when it didn't hit that tapping area. This was a
major bummer- it meant the scope would have to go back to Celestron. Well, at least I hadn't paid for it yet, and it wasn't at my house.
(Bob at SU is a great guy- he seemed as down as I did! Good to have a dealer who cares)

Many would think that this would lead to me canceling the scope outright... but I'm also aware that there were some development
problems and that these first few scopes being sent out may have been some of the initial "blast" as we say in retail. So, I'm back in line
with Celestron- and we'll give them a second chance. Like I said, I really like this scope's ease of transporting (I never felt
like "OMIGOD!!! I GOTTA PUT THIS THING DOWN!!! IT'S KILLING ME!!!" at all) and the optics looked pristine- not a blemish across the mirror
or the corrector glass- it's beautiful! (My wife says it's sexy looking and futuristic- so when it's not doing it's astronomy thing it
won't be an "eyesore" in the living room- you all know how important this is...)

Although we never got past the shakedown of the mechanics of the scope- I was happy to see that it DOES include the Nexremote software and
cabling to your laptop/PC; there's also a cable for hooking it up to your cigarette lighter plug or power supply using those ports; there's the
40mm E-lux ep and a finder scope as well as a nice glossy manual.

The CPC 1100XLT comes in two very well packed boxes- the OTA/fork in one, and the heavy duty tripod in the second. The OTA box is big- but
should fit easily into the backseat of any mid-size car (we have a Lumina- it would've been fine there.) and the tripod box was the right
size for a typical trunk. (okay, none of this would probably fit in my Berretta!)

While I wait (and wait, and wait) for my second scope, I hope someone out there can report on their experiences with the Celestron CPC1100
XLT and give me some peace of mind that I just got the lemon that slipped through- I'm very excited about this scope- and I can't wait
to hear how it performs under the stars!!!

Typically, even if the scope came home with me tonight- she wouldn't be having her first light- it's cloudy! Well, at least there's
that! :)

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here and I'll answer whatever I can!

Clear Skies,
Paul

#2 b1gred

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:36 PM

Good report, sorry you have been having problems. For some reason, this is not unusual for big scopes (Celestron is not the only one about which I've heard of problems.) The big issues seems to be with the shipping.

I got to see first hand a brand new GPS11 being unpacked only to discover that somewhere along the line the box it was shipped in had been dropped on one end(it did have visible damage). The corrector was destroyed, as was part of the fork.

One of the dealers I talk with regularly has told me that an average of 2 out of every 10 large scopes (reflectors/SCTs >5") they get has some shipping damage. It would appear that lables such as "Fragile! Glass" just don't garner much care by the people who handle them.

The good news: the shipping companies pay for the damage.
The bad news: someone always ends up waiting even longer for their much awaited scope.

I hope yours gets replaced or repaired quickly. In some ways you might be better off if you get the same scope back from Celestron's repair shop. They are THOROUGH and generally return the scope to you better than it left the factory.

#3 Paul McC

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 04:56 PM

Thanks, Randy-

The CPC was packaged fine, and the boxes were unblemished- but I agree with your statements. Shipping a scope is the WORST thing that can happen to it. (And UPS - although I don't know that they were the actual shipper- has a certain talent - in my experience - for breaking glass!)

The other things that were questionable to me was the worn paint and scratches on the base- it almost looked second hand. But how could this be on a brand new distribution of a new product? I wondered if maybe I had one that had been around to shows or something...

There's not enough of these scopes out there yet to get an idea on the QC of these- but I still have the feeling that I just got a lemon.

Clear Skies,
Paul

#4 ForgottenMObject

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 05:03 PM

Sorry about the end result, but at least it should be a good scope when you get a working one.

Yeesh - 2 out of 10 get creamed in some way in shipping?! Wow... makes me feel lucky to have gotten working scopes over the years!

#5 b1gred

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 05:15 PM

The "wear" and scratches can be the result of simple vibration within the shipping box. It doesn't take a lot of amplitude of motion to cause a lot of damage when that motion is repetitive like it is in a moving truck with perhaps an out of balance tire, or on an airplane in turbulence, or on the ocean with a pitching and rolling deck.

#6 Paul McC

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 05:40 PM

You may be right- but on the other hand, the worn paint on top of the base looks like poor finish- but the scratches could be the result of shipping, I suppose. Thankfully, I haven't seen a glut of postings about this- so the CPC I used was probably the exception to the rule. (Hopefully!)

These were mere cosmetic things; I would've forgotten them once I got some first light views! :)

#7 Phil Wheeler

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 05:50 PM

there's NO bubble level in this tripod's top- I was disappointed in this as the Sky & Telescope review said that
leveling the scope was extremely important for it's alignment methods to work


Precise leveling is definitely not needed with SkyAlign. Just eyeball it well enough that the three stars you pick will be above the scope's (tripod's) horizon.

#8 Phil Wheeler

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 05:54 PM

I got to see first hand a brand new GPS11 being unpacked only to discover that somewhere along the line the box it was shipped in had been dropped on one end(it did have visible damage). The corrector was destroyed, as was part of the fork.

One of the dealers I talk with regularly has told me that an average of 2 out of every 10 large scopes (reflectors/SCTs >5") they get has some shipping damage. It would appear that lables such as "Fragile! Glass" just don't garner much care by the people who handle them.

The good news: the shipping companies pay for the damage.
The bad news: someone always ends up waiting even longer for their much awaited scope.


My NS8GPS arrived damaged (I picked it up at the dealer's and drove it home) in 2003. It really was Celestron's fault: The lens cap was not secured to the tube and damaged the corrector significantly at some point. Drove it to Celestron and they fixed it.

Phil

#9 yg1968

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:45 AM

Hi Paul,

I was wondering: when you first use the telescope outside, does the CPC start "downloading" the GPS information as soon as you power up the scope or do you have to start the alignment procedure and get to the menu where the GPS attemps to get a link (in order to get the time, date and coordinates for the alignement procedure)?

Incidentally, the hand control came with the 4.03 firmware. I decided to update it to the latest 4.10 firmware.

My telescope also had some minor scratches on the grey area (i.e. the base). The lens cap fell off when I took out the scope from the box. But I did not notice any damage to the correctors lens.

#10 Paul McC

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 02:55 PM

Hi yg1968,

It's been a week since my experience- but from what I remember it was flashing "GPS Linking" (and some other info- like what alignment method I wanted); we chose not to do anything until the GPS link was up. (This takes longer as the GPS downloads a lot of info initially when its at a new location.) We didn't need to go into any menus- about the only reason you might want to do this is to confirm that the CPC's internal GPS device is activated. My CPC's was on by default- and I'm guessing this is how they ship- but there is an option to turn the GPS off. (If my GPS wasn't linking after a reasonable time, this would be the logical setting to check)

I never checked the firmware on the HC, so I'm not sure what was there.

There were paint scratches on the base bottom and sides- the paint on top of the base had worn spots (as if it had been rubbed with a brillo pad that scraped paint away); there was also black scuffs on the base. Nothing fell off or was dropped during our unpacking- and the shipping packaging looked secure- so my only conclusion is that the scope left the factory like this.

Who knows? Maybe the QC process of mounting the scope scratches the base sometimes.

With all this (the tapping noise was the main reason the scope was rejected) I'm STILL real excited about this scope- I can't wait to get my hands on the new one! I'm so impressed by it's easy lift and easy mounting. Celestron's reputation for great optics is icing on the cake.

#11 yg1968

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:15 PM

Thanks or the info.

#12 LivingNDixie

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 02:23 PM

The bottom of my LX200 is by no means mint condition. I think its just wear and tear of using the scope... But I wouldn't think a new one would be very scratched up, once you get a few monthes/years of use then I would expect it.

#13 Paul McC

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 01:53 AM

Hi Preston,

My point exactly! :)

I've been informed that my second CPC 1100 may ship tomorrow! So, I've got my fingers twisted, entwined, knotted- well you get the point. Here's to a perfect (or nearly so) scope!

Clear Skies,
Paul

#14 tprice

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 08:52 PM

I picked up my CPC1100 last Wednesday from my local dealer and it was absoutly perfect in appearance, no scratches and the finish on the tube was beautiful. I have not been able to use the telescope yet, bad weather and traveling on business :smirk:. Will send a report asap.

#15 Paul McC

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 11:01 PM

tprice-

Excellent! There's hope for my new scope! I should be able to get mine on Monday!

Clear Skies,
Paul

#16 yg1968

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 09:52 AM

I tried out my CPC 11 XLT telescope for a second time last weekend. I had better luck than last time. Saturn was spectacular. I could easily see the Cassini division. I used my William-Optics bino-viewer for the first time. They are great with the CPC 11 XLT.

I had some minor problems. I bought the 110 volts 2.5 amp DC adaptor from Celestron. It works fine but it has a tendency to unplug itself when the scope is rotating. I have decided to fix that problem by buying (yesterday) a wire clip (at Radio Shack) that should ensure the wire doesn't get unplug when the scope is rotating.

Other than that, I managed to use Sky Align for the first time. I had the GPS turned off as I have yet to make it work.

I had a slight motor problem. I was going from Saturn to Jupiter and the motor suddenly stopped and started again. It actually stopped twice before getting to Jupiter. It eventually got to Jupiter but I found it strange that it stopped on the way. I am guessing that this behaviour was caused by the temperature being so low (-25 C, i.e. -13 F) and the scope being out a long time in this cold temperature.

#17 b1gred

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 05:33 PM

I think I would give Celestron Tech support and ask them about that motor stopping issue. It may be due to cold, but could also be symptomatic of another issue. You don't want the warranty to expire without you ensuring everything's working exactly right.

#18 Paul McC

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 07:34 PM

I second Randy's opinion- you have a two year warranty- start exercising it NOW. Also, the GPS not working is thoroughly unacceptable- you paid a heap of $$$ for the scope to "work like new"- and it better since it is new.

A call to Celestron will probably get you a quick fix- perhaps the GPS is a pluggable module that you can take out yourself and have them replace (you aren't using it now so it wouldn't make any difference.) via Fedex with you installing the new one. It might be better this way- less wear and tear on the optics in shipping- especially since you seem to be happy with the optics (yay!).

As for the motor problem, see if you can get that to repeat inside where it's warm - if not, your cold theory has more weight to it- although, again, I'd check with Celestron Technicians to see if this is true.

Thanks for your post! I'm really chomping at the bit now!!!

Clear Skies,
Paul

#19 b1gred

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 09:55 PM

I have heard of 3 CPC units with the GPS installed "upside down", although I haven't seen one of these personally, I think it's a possibility that could be the issue with yours. In any case, the call to Celestron is a must. I haven't used my scope at that low a temperature, but it is actually more likely you are having a voltage issue than a temperature one. Good luck, and let us know what your find out.

#20 mike174

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 10:38 PM

Hi,

Where have you heard about the GPS units upside down?

Tnx,

Mike

#21 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 11:17 PM

I was fairly convinced to stick with waiting for my 925 (rather than change to the 800), but yikes, with all these problems with the 1100, I'm again wondering about getting the stable steady 800...

#22 Paul McC

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 12:23 AM

mdavies,

I'm supposed to be getting my CPC 1100 on Monday- the first unit I had had no GPS problems other then I had to give it 15 minutes (which seems to be one of the speedier initial links?) for it's initial linkup. The problem with my GPS was that I kept flipping the off/on switch because we thought the linkup wasn't working properly. (Meade's newer Sony GPS units evidently link faster according to my dealer- so we thought the CPC GPS unit would too)

Mine went back due to some noises in the base- which so far, no one has reported (to my knowledge) hearing in any other CPC 1100 or 800.

I'm not sure if Randy was saying that he'd heard of 3 CPC 1100's with GPSs installed incorrectly or 3 CPC 800s or a mix of these models; if they were all CPC 1100s, this would probably be due to the redesigned fork arms used in the CPC 1100 (and 925). If this is just a rare but easily user correctable (and not a warranty voider) thing, fine. (Although it would really be nice for Celestron to just get it right since we aren't talking about toys here- these are very expensive instruments and they should be treated as such by Celestron)

If the improperly installed GPSs were in CPC 800s, then there's no point in rushing in that direction either- wait for the 925 (although I stated in your other thread that I thought the 800 would be fine, too) to come out. By that time (March? April?) Celestron will probably have all those problems- often seen in new products- worked out as well. (I'm hoping someone there got a browbeating over such ineptitude)

Clear Skies,
Paul

#23 yg1968

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 01:06 AM

As far as the GPS is concerned, I let it run for about an hour and a half without any results. But I did not have a clear view of the sky in the sense that the house and forest were in the way. The motor problem did not occur at any other time than late in the evening when the scope was almost frozen. It does not occur when the scope is inside the house or when the scope has just started being outside. I am going to try the GPS in a clear field one last time and if it still doesn't work, the scope will be going back to Celestron. The problem is that a lot of the problems I have had are not reproducable in the sense that they only occur at -25 degrees celcius.

I have heard of Meade LX200 having problems in cold weather. I wonder if Celestron does not have similar problems in very cold temperatures. For the Meade problems, see this link:

http://www.nortek.on...e_retrofit.aspx

Incidentally, I had the dealer open up the arm to see if the GPS was upside down. Neither him or me knew for sure how to tell which side is up but the red light was blinking towards the top inside side of the scope.

#24 b1gred

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:16 AM

I think you just need to let the GPS get a good unobstructed view of the sky for a while. I haven't opened a CPC to actually look at the GPS unit, but I think those who have seen the unit upside down thought it was pretty obvious (like maybe the light was pointing down where it couldn't be seen).

I have been told that only a handful of the CPC scopes got off the line with the improperly installed GPS, so the problem is likely just that yours just couldn't "see" enough of the sky to link up. Please keep us informed, this is likely to help others figure out their situations if they come up.

#25 yg1968

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 09:58 AM

Thanks for your help, Randy. I will keep you posted. I won't get to test the GPS for at least a week. There's too many buildings in the city. I have to go the country side in a week or so where I will get a chance to test it. The dealer has told me that the new 2.5 amp 110 volts DC Power cords (which don't come with the scope) have a tendency to unplug themselves when the scope is moving. The clip I installed should help avoid this problem. There is a 2 year warranty on the scope, so I am being patient. But if these problems aren't solved in the next few weeks, I will not hesitate to send the scope back. The dealer has been very supportive through all of this.


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