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Meade LX850 Service Failure

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#1 Loden

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 07:11 PM

I have a Meade LX850 mount. On it, I use several scopes for astrophotography, commonly more than one by using the side mount for wide fields. Primarily I use the Celestron 1100 Edge HD with Hyperstar, or a 0.71 reducer, or in native focal length, or with a Barlow. All have been satisfactory and more so now that I have Polemaster. 

 

I love the mount because the Starlock eliminates the entire hassle of guiding. It just happens. As long as I carefully did not take shortcuts with the hand controller and followed the manual listed steps carefully it worked well. Going from a series of steps to, for example, "Find Home" sometimes sent it to China, requiring a manual shut-down and loss of PEC data. Overall I was quite reasonably pleased with the results 

 

Here is the subject. While imaging at a star party, during a median flip, in the middle of the traverse the Dec. motor box started making a grinding noise and then stalled. After resetting everything, once again the scope worked well until it repeated the same behavior.

 

I called Meade support and got some good help that narrowed down the problem to the Dec. Motor Assembly. I got online immediately (in October 2017) and ordered the part, paying Meade $750 for the part, which was listed as "in stock." I got an email confirmation and promise to ship shortly. A week later I got another email advising me that there would be a few day's delay as there had been an unexpectedly high demand for the part. In mid-November, after emailing several times I was promised the part would be in on December 8. At the end of December, I emailed again and got a notice that the delay would be indefinite. I got on the phone and spoke with the Dealer Support Rep who said that that the subparts for the box were not available and there was no schedule for making them, so he could not comment on when, if ever, the assembly would be available. I asked how long they intended to keep my $750 if there was no projected date for the part to be available. The rep politely advised me that they would keep the money until I asked for it back and canceled the order. I asked if I could be placed on a list and contacted if the part ever became available. He replied that if I asked for the money back I would need to just watch their site and if the part was again listed as "in stock" I could order it again but would be at the end of the line. 

 

I am posting this to let the community know first, that apparently, the failure of that box is relatively high, and second, Meade has no time-frame for creating replacement parts for their existing scopes as they are backlogged making new scopes. 

 

I have been in business for 35 years and If I treated my customers like that, I would expect to lose them. 


Edited by Loden, 30 December 2017 - 07:13 PM.

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#2 Stephen Kennedy

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 08:06 PM

It does not seem likely to me that Meade is selling LX-850 mounts as fast as they can make Dec motors for them and therefore they can not sell one to a customer who has already purchased an LX-850 which he is unable to use until he gets a new Dec motor.  This mount has a premium price but Meade is not normally considered a vender of premium goods.  I suspect that they have not been able to sell very many and have therefore stopped making them. 

 

If that is the case you may be out of luck since Meade is not in the habit of making replacement parts for discontinued products.


Edited by Stephen Kennedy, 30 December 2017 - 08:10 PM.

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#3 EFT

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 01:44 AM

This is not even remotely surprising I'm sorry to say.  I can't even imagine what it could be that they are selling you for that much money in the first place.  I would certainly ask for your money back (and expect it to take at least as long to get it back) and then start digging into the mount yourself to see what might actually be the problem and whether it can be fixed without the replacement.  It's actually fairly likely that the problem is not as bad as they portrayed it.


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#4 rmollise

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 10:50 AM

Two possibilities. First is that the person at Meade you spoke to doesn't know what he/she is talking about. Which wouldn't surprise me.

 

Or, secondly, that they are discontinuing this mount. If there are no more dec motor assemblies to be made, how will they make new mounts? While this wouldn't surprise me, it still sounds a little unlikely. That would leave them without a GEM of any sort to sell. 

 

Before attempting to fix the mount myself, I'd kick the problem up the ladder at Meade. Insist on talking to the person's supervisor, and then their supervisor, etc. Failing that, write a registered letter to the top honcho at the company. 


Edited by rmollise, 31 December 2017 - 10:50 AM.

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#5 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 31 December 2017 - 02:22 PM

This doesn't surprise me at all.  

 

I've had these apart more times than I can count.  If you heard a grinding sound then most likely the "bolts" that hold the gears came loose and spun the adjustment lobe in such a way that they bind up. 

 

Take the side cover of the gearbox off and see if you can tell if the bolts going through the gears are loose. 

There is a lobe/sleeve that goes through the center of the gears.  By turning them you adjust the spacing between the teeth.  I bet when you slew these are turning (they are not supposed to) and mashing the teeth together.

 

I ended up getting longer bolts so the threads would protrude to the inside of the gearbox and then put nuts on them to hold them in place once I had the teeth meshed correctly.  

 

You can also remove the top cover and look inside where the motor is. Make sure the motor is not loose.

 

Sounds like it can be fixed if at least to get you going again while you wait for a new part to become available.



#6 Loden

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 09:23 PM

Update: Meade still does not have a date when the Dec Assembly for the LX850 will be manufactured. My conclusion is the date is "never." I shipped the head to Meademods.com where Gary Ingles took it apart and found a chewed up gear. The gear appears to have failed because it was out of alignment at manufacture. He has had a machine shop make a new gear for the mount and while he was at it did some tuning and replaced the nut holding the Dec adjustment screw so that the slack that took it slightly out of polar alignment when I tightened it down is gone. He is throwing in some new tripod boots to replace the tiny ones it comes with and new, much larger securing knobs for the tripod extenders. Total cost is about what I would have had to pay for the replacement Dec assembly if one was available.

 

Fair warning though, Meade appears to have made the decision to no longer support the LX850 with replacement parts. Gary seems competent to create machined parts to do so. I will post what I find when I get it all put together and attempt to use it again for astrophotography. 


Edited by Loden, 06 February 2018 - 09:27 PM.

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#7 orlyandico

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 12:06 AM

Where are the Defenders of the (Meade) Faith in this sage??  lol.gif


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#8 Chuckwagon

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 01:06 AM

Where are the Defenders of the (Meade) Faith in this sage??  lol.gif

Hard to defend a company that is so stupid they don't offer spare parts for their current flagship mount.  Meade isn't doing themselves any favors.  Overpriced gear and poor customer service isn't a winning combo.  shrug.gif



#9 EFT

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 01:15 AM

It's good that you found someone who could fix it for you.  I will have to look at sending people their way when someone comes to me with an LX850 nightmare.  Have you been able to make any progress on getting your money back from Meade?



#10 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 02:29 AM

Gday Loden

 The gear appears to have failed because it was out of alignment at manufacture.

Got any piccies/schematics of the current axle designs?

When i was helping Whichway analyse why his PE changed so dramatically after every drive to his remote site, we found the axles holding the transfer gears could work loose. The axles were basically drilled with an eccentric centre hole so that as the drivetrain was assembled, you could set the mesh of each gear very accurately, but it wasnt very robust due to the way it was held together, and the gears could de mesh badly when the axle broke loose.

To be fair, that was the early version of the LX800/850, but it would be interesting to see if the later designs have addressed this.

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


Edited by OzAndrewJ, 07 February 2018 - 02:30 AM.


#11 niteman1946

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 08:50 AM

Hi Loden,

that is just terrible!  Hard to understand if that is indeed Meade‚Äôs direction. 

 

Mark



#12 CrazyPanda

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 09:02 AM

There are two philosophies to have:

 

1. "We have so few premium customers anyway, who cares if we lose them? A small number minus a small number is still a small number!"

 

2. "We have so few premium customers, every single one is important, so let's take care of them!"
 

Evidently Meade has opted for the former rather than the latter. 



#13 jdupton

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Posted 08 February 2018 - 03:33 PM

There are two philosophies to have:

 

1. "We have so few premium customers anyway, who cares if we lose them? A small number minus a small number is still a small number!"

 

2. "We have so few premium customers, every single one is important, so let's take care of them!"
 

Evidently Meade has opted for the former rather than the latter. 

   There is also an option #3:

 

3. "We don't want to start a new production run given our current inventory. We can either sell a $750 motor or sell a $6200 mount and possibly eat the cost of parts that won't ever fail."

 

   It is sad that Loden is caught in the middle. He does seem to have found a viable option, however. Too bad he had to resort to that repair route.

 

 

John



#14 rcdk

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 06:37 PM

They probably source the parts from a supplier who is no longer able or willing to manufacture them.

Since they are still advertising the mount you would expect one to be start cannibalizing mounts as others have pointed out.

#15 orlyandico

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 12:07 AM

$750 for a motor and board seems excessive. These aren't made of gold. The entire AP motor controller is $1000 and it handles both axes.



#16 rcdk

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 12:44 AM

Which makes the unwillingness to cannibalize even more puzzling. They could be making more off that one part than the whole mount.

#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 09:23 AM

Where's Andrew?  scratchhead2.gif

 

:)

 

Jon

 

 


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#18 ishorx

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 10:02 AM

unfortunately that's the nature of the business,sometimes its out of the companys hands,say a manufacturer of motors or whatever parts goes out of business or stops making a particular part whats meade supposed to do?



#19 spokeshave

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 10:27 AM

unfortunately that's the nature of the business,sometimes its out of the companys hands,say a manufacturer of motors or whatever parts goes out of business or stops making a particular part whats meade supposed to do?

A competent manufacturer would have a contractual relationship with the suppliers to ensure a supply of parts for the duration. A competent bid process would also include an assessment of the supplier's financial stability prior to award. Although there is no way to assure with 100% certainty that a supplier will always be able to supply, it is, in my opinion, the epitome of customer disregard to continue to offer for sale a flagship product for which replacement parts are not available. 


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#20 rcdk

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 11:14 AM

When you have a company approach bankruptcy and get bought, a lot of that goes out the window even though it shouldn't. Makes me wonder if this part wasn't sourced from someone like JOC before the sale and now that business relationship no longer exists.

I have noticed that the LX70 has been discontinued.

One would hope the new owners of Meade would be looking for a way forward for the mount rather than just dumping the existing stock on unsuspecting customers with no intention to continue support. As has apparently happened several times in the past with previous management.

#21 johnpane

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 11:20 AM

There is also the lack of software updates. There has been nothing for years, despite documented bugs. It raises the question whether the sale of the company also severed the relationship with the software developer. 



#22 DaveJ

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 12:40 PM

...One would hope the new owners of Meade would be looking for a way forward for the mount rather than just dumping the existing stock on unsuspecting customers with no intention to continue support...

Meade was bought by Ningbo Sunny - a Chinese toy company - in October of 2013. Link  Unless there's been a change that no one knows about, that's the current owner. But who knows?



 



#23 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 03:38 PM

Gday Jon

 

Where's Andrew?

I'm still here watchinggrin.gif

 

And hoping Loden could post some piccies of the latest mechanism

as unlike earlier models, the "gearbox" in the LX850 is made up

of adjustable custom parts, so should be able to be fixed bit by bit as reqd

it shouldnt need a full new assy.

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia



#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 05:08 PM

Gday Jon

 

Where's Andrew?

I'm still here watchinggrin.gif

 

And hoping Loden could post some piccies of the latest mechanism

as unlike earlier models, the "gearbox" in the LX850 is made up

of adjustable custom parts, so should be able to be fixed bit by bit as reqd

it shouldnt need a full new assy.

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia

 

Andrew:

 

I must apologize for the confusion. 

 

I was sarcastically referring to another Andrew whose Cloudy Nights alias is something like SpacetravelerX . That particular Andrew is well known as an unabashed supporter of everything Meade and apologist for Meade's every misstep . 

 

I confident he would have tried to put a positive spin on this particular situation ..

 

"Yes,  it is it 90% Kangaroo dung but it's not over cooked. " 

 

Sorry for the confusion. 

 

Jon Isaacs

 

P .S.  I haven't seen him posting , I hope he's OK .



#25 OzAndrewJ

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Posted 10 February 2018 - 06:05 PM

Gday Jon

 

I must apologize for the confusion.

No apologies required ( nor confusion on my part ).

I had a chuckle reading yr post but I probably should have put more smiley faces on my ( obviously too subtle ) semi sarcastic reply grin.gif grin.gif grin.gif So my apologies in return.

 

 

P .S.  I haven't seen him posting , I hope he's OK .

Dont worry, he was still alive and posting on another thread re the magnificence of the LX850 a few days ago

https://www.cloudyni...k-on-a-classic/

 

Andrew Johansen Melbourne Australia


Edited by OzAndrewJ, 10 February 2018 - 06:06 PM.

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