Since we are documenting things for the record...
Sky and Telescope magazine published an extensive shoot-out of Meade and Celestron 8” SCTs in their December, 1989 and January, 1990 issues. Meade’s offerings included the 2080 Basic no frills model, the LX5 and the LX6. In the conclusion of this comparison, we find this passage:
Why has Meade not offered the sophisticated electronic capabilities of the LX6 with an f/10 optical system? This question repeatedly came to mind as I compared these scopes. Then just last month Meade announced its new line of Premier telescopes—f/10 and f/6.3 optics in 8- and 10-inch models—that incorporate the LX6 drive complete with all its bells and whistles.
These same issues include ads introducing the Meade Premier 70 and 76 models (at F/10 and F/6.3 respectively), stating that the “Ultimate SC’s Are Here-and-Now.” While the scopes carry the Premier moniker, they are still listed as using the “LX6 precision worm-gear-pulse-motor drive system” and “LX quartz microprocessor controlled electronics.” Both models are listed as coming with the Superwedge.
An ad for the full (initial) Premier line shows up in the March, 1990, issue. Here’s a table from that ad listing the models and features:
As the model numbers get bigger, you get a bigger/nicer finder and better eyepieces (the 70/76 come with a package that includes a 26mm super Plossl, a 40mm SWA and two higher power UWAs). Note the 2120 models ending “H”—they come with the heavy-duty superwedge (and that the 70/76 no longer come with the Superwedge—you have to get the 70H or 76H).
And here’s a Meade Premier ad from the June, 2000, S&T:
In the January, 1991 Sky and Telescope, there is an ad for Meade’s new “Smart Drive” technology—Meade’s permanent periodic error correction (PPEC) system. It says that “Smart Drive is now available on all Premier Series Schmidt-Cassegrains.” Here’s the ad…
Note that this new SmartDrive still looks cosmetically identical to the LX6 drive, despite the new electronics. It still has the yellowish-green “Q” (for “Quartz”) logo. Now the drive for the scope that inspired this thread has a logo with pinkish Q logo that surrounds an “S”. I can’t find it documented, but I’m pretty sure that the “S” is for SmartDrive. Certainly, the dates associated with the scope would indicate that it should be a SmartDrive model. So it appears that these “S” logo Premiers are from late production. A green “Q” drive Premier may or may not be a SmartDrive. After the introduction of the SmartDrive, Meade ceased to refer to the drive as the LX6 drive.
Later ads show that models 40/46 (with H variants for the 2120) were added to the line and eventually replaced the 30/36.
And then by the March, 1992, issue of S&T, the advertisements for the Premier series are gone, replaced by the newly announced LX200.
So in conclusion (and contrary to what has been claimed by others elsewhere in this thread):
- If a scope is F/10, it was sold as a Premier, not an LX6.
- The difference between the LX6 and a Premier scope is not that the latter has a drive with a finer-toothed worm wheel/gear: the initial Premier scopes used the exact same drive as the LX6s. Did a finer-toothed gear system come as part of the SmartDrive? I don’t know—I could find no documentation of such. Meade makes no claims of an improved worm system, but it is possible that they still had fewer teeth than the Ultima (according to the S&T shootout, the LX6 had twice the periodic error period of the Ultima, so I would assume that means it had half the teeth), and did not want to the highlight this.
- All SmartDrive LX6-like scopes are Premiers, however lack of the pink “S” logo does not mean that a scope isn’t a Premier—it may not even mean that it is not a SmartDrive, as the first SmartDrive scopes apparently (at least if we can trust Meade ad photos) still had the green “Q” logo.
- And I guess while we are setting the record straight, it is "Premier" not "Premiere." I used the latter in my earlier posts, because I figured Rod Mollise had it right in his SCT guide, but the ads clearly show that Meade used the former spelling.
Is it wrong to call a scope an LX6 if it was sold as a Premier? Other than the name it was sold under, an early production Meade 2080 Premier Model 56 is—near as I can figure—identical to the LX6 model it replaced, right down to the finder scope and eyepiece it was equipped with. As a generic umbrella, LX6 can certainly be applied as all LX6s, the earlier Premiers and I suppose even the SmartDrive-equipped Premiers, as these scopes are certainly LX6-like. This is not unlike the way we use C8 to refer to all Celestron 8” SCTs, even though in the strictest sense, it really only applies to the orange-tube model. I suppose calling them LX6/Premier scopes might be better, but that has the unfortunate side-effect of implying that the Premier name was a sub-brand under the broader LX6 brand, which is not the case.
Whatever we call these scopes, when it comes to understanding the vintage of a particular scope, it is important to remember that in the strictest sense, “LX6” only applies to F/6.3 scopes built before 1990. If a scope was sold by Meade as an LX6, it is F/6.3 and probably built in 88 or 89 (even if it was sold later). If it has a later manufacture date and is F/6.3, it was sold as a Premier. If it is on an LX6-style drive and F/10 (and isn’t a Frankescope), it was built in 1990 or later. If it has the SmartDrive (in either F/6.3 or F/10), it was sold as a Premier and probably built in 1991. If it has the “S” logo Smartdrive, it is a late production Premier that almost certainly was built in 1991 (give or take a month or two), regardless of focal ratio. Also, the scopes sold as LX6s were Meade's flagship models at the time and thus came with 9x60 polar finders. If a scope has the LX6-style drive, but a lesser finderscope (as original equipment), it would have to be a Premier model 30 or 40.
Edited by jallbery, 22 October 2018 - 12:18 PM.