Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Meade LX650 w/Starlock

  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 23 April 2019 - 01:04 PM

Hi,

 

I wonder if anyone can tell me what they think of the above scope. I have a very complex system currently and that complexity is getting to me. So I am thinking of getting rid of everything and purchasing a large ap SCT goto such as the Meade. Put it on a pier as part of the setup.

 

I currently have a Stellarvue 125mm ACCESS mounted on top of Losmandy's G11GT. This is all very fine equipment, but complicated. It seems I spend most of my time, troubleshooting a bunch of variables. All have been taken care of, but I look at my setup and wonder why I have so much, when my goal is to makes things more simple.

 

Anyway, any feedback on the Meade would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.



#2 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:49 PM

I think you mean the LX 850 not 650. There is a LX 600 but it doesn't come with StarLock that I can see.

 

The first part of my answer will assume you are going to put it on a pier.

 

It is a very big all in one solution. It will not reduce the overall complexity of AP.  Also the StarLock doesn't do much for you if you are mounted on a pier and have the mount correctly polar aligned since StarLock helps you setup a pointing model. Once you do one the mount should know where it is in relation to the sky so you won't run it over and over again. Granted it will act as a guidescope as near as I can tell.

 

The Gemini 2 system  does this too. Once you have done a detailed model you are pretty well dialed in since you are on a pier. The Losmandy is a good quality mount for the price and I am not sure what complexity you would be taking out of the system by going to a new mount. Is it guiding? OK. StarLock does that for you, but you are replacing a guidescope with another guidescope. Is it finding and centering targets? OK. It will do that too. But then so will AstroTortilla or other software out there. You are just moving the function not removing the function. 

 

You are also changing your scope. The LX 850 10" SCT is an f/8 2032mm focal length scope. Your 125 is a f/7.8 975mm APO. This is a big jump. So tolerances are going to have to be even tighter than before which is going to mean better polar alignment, better guiding, and so on.

 

The mount will be in about the same class in terms of quality of manufacture as the Losmandy by the way so there isn't much advantage to it. In addition the mount alone is $5,500 or $7,199 with the 10" SCT. If you really want something less complex look at a used Astro Physics Mach1. Or wait until the Mach2 comes out in the fall. Or look at a AP 1100 if you need the capacity. I say less complex because the Mach1 and the AP 1100 are stupid simple to polar align, align for GOTO, and image with compared to most mounts. There is no 2+2+ASPA+2+2 you get with Celestron. There is no multipoint modeling like you do with the Gemini 2. The AP series of mounts flow is to use the RAPAS to polar align the mount, find a star on the side of the meridian you plan to image on, Sync on it. Image. This can be done using the optional hand controller, the APCC software, or a third party solution like Luminos from your smartphone. Stupid simple. Alternately you can use other methods to PA the mount if you don't want the RAPAS. This also assumes no plate solving and barebones software in use.

 

The second part of my answer will assume you setup and tear down each time.

 

Very little changes in my answer save that the mount and tripod are big and heavy, the scope is even bigger and heavier, setting up a G11GT or a Mach1 and your existing setup is going to feel like a spring breeze compared to the LX 850. It is doable. But after spending $7,000+ dollars and factoring in the weight/size, how much will you actually use it?

 

Regardless of the above I am not seeing a great deal of savings in terms of complexity either way you go save putting a mount on a pier. That will save you some complexity since you are not setting up and tearing down each session. Beyond that you are still facing a setup and teardown, a polar alignment, a overall alignment of the mount either via plate solving or the mounts own internal alignment system, and then having to setup your imaging rig. Perhaps you can look at simplifying your rig? I am in the process of doing so with mine. 

 

My planned design has me going from multiple cables coming off the mount for power and control of equipment including the mount to two cables coming off the mount total. Both cables are power. One powers the mount and the other powers a RigRunner mounted to the top of my imaging scope. Everything control related like the CCD, focuser, and mount itself is handled wirelessly over WiFI. The Mach1 and 1100 both are controlled by Wifi. The autofocuser I have is the FocusBOSS which is controlled via WiFi. I replaced my QSI 690 wsg8 with a SBIG Aluma 694 with FW8G. The SBIG gives me a integrated OAG with camera and 8 position FW controlled via WiFi. I plan to use custom sized cables from the FocusBOSS motor, the FocusBOSS control box, and SBIG to the RigRunner.

 

That means I have three total cables on the imaging rig and one off of it to power. The three cables are power from the CCD to the RigRunner. Power from the FocusBOSS control box which is mounted right behind the RigRunner on top of the imaging scope via a second top dovetail into the RigRunner and a cable from the FocusBOSS control box to the motor on the focuser. In addition I plan to put a carry handle on the top dovetail on the imaging scope so I can move everything as one integrated piece. I will also cable wrap the cables in braided cable wrap. I will mark the bottom dovetail with the two balance points for the rig. The first for use in my home observatory where I have another scope this one will ride on top of and on the AP 1100. The second for use in the field with the Mach1. I will shoot LRGB from the field and NB from home. The control cable for the mount isn't in the way and won't drag and power from the mount control box (CP4) is also not a drag concern. 

 

It comes down to a versatile, compact, clean install eliminating the rats nest of cabling and any potential cable drag problems. 



#3 AF7JQ

AF7JQ

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 85
  • Joined: 07 Mar 2018
  • Loc: Concho Valley, Arizona 6500Ft ASL

Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:57 PM

The LX850 is an EQ mount. The LX600 is ALT/AZ and DOES come with star lock. Not sure which one you meant, I have a LX600 and can recomend it. The starlock makes things very easy to set up and image. You will need to put it on a wedge though, and it's not very portable. With all the components on it the whole scope weighs 120 LBS, but over all very stable. But for imaging it's pretty KOOL! Run Auto Rate Cal at the start of the session (takes about 7 mins) the guiding is automatic after that. Star lock wil also assist in PEC traing, and Polar align as well. If you get the Meade X-Wedge it will tell you which direction and how much to turn each knob to get to Polar align.

A typical work flow for the scope...Open the Dome, remove lens caps, power up camera, focuser, and scope. Run ARC for starlock, run auto focus, and Plate solve location. Auto slew to location, Plate solve to center target. By the time you get to the target the camera is cooled down to operating temp, and ready to image. From power up to taking images is about 15 - 20 minutes total. I can also do everything remotely from the warm Ham Shack 100 feet away. Still have to manually move the dome though.

Happy to answer questions...

John


  • KevH likes this

#4 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 24 April 2019 - 10:29 AM

Now that you mentioned it, it jogged my memory. I actually won a LX 600 at a astronomy show. Now that you mention it I do believe it came with StarLock as well as the wedge. When I looked at how big it was (the one I won was at the show as a demo) and the machinations to get it setup including hoisting that massive scope/fork onto the wedge I took the obligatory marketing photos and promptly sold the scope. It was just too big and too heavy and too much hassle to deal with.

And I am a big fan of Meade scopes. My second scope (my first one was a Celestron 8SE that was defective and almost drove me out of the hobby) was a LX 90 8”. I just wish they were more innovative in the same way Celestron and iOptron have been when it comes to mounts and did something about the weight of their tubes.

As I said above, if you are going to spend that kind of money then from my perspective it would be a better value add to invest in a high end mount and maybe with the difference in cost for a used mount invest in a second tube or a camera that helps you reduce complexity.

#5 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 24 April 2019 - 11:04 AM

Thanks for the feedback,

 

Meade's LX600 (sorry, not 650) is a goto fork mount. The forks are split to decrease the lifting weight of the scope. Comes with starlock. Sells for just under $5K.

 

https://www.meade.co...d.html?___SID=U

 

One of my concerns is Polar Aligning and/or drift align. This is pretty much a requirement when using an EQ mount. I can not see the polar star or drift align from my location. I either have to move or set up a portable travel system such as an RV. Expensive either way.

 

But I do remember how I used to align my Celestron that seemed to work, while using the dedicated wedge.

 

Set up and tear down of my current system is an hours long process. I have to break the mount down into 6 parts before moving. After that, it's portable. Sure. This does not include the scope setup aspects. My Celestron was a piece of cake in comparison, and that was a big scope. Basically two parts to move. Albeit heavy.

 

There is the necessity for polar alignment and drift alignment while using an EQ mount which significantly adds to the complexity. The fact of balancing the mount axis and scope with accessories and cw additions are also time consuming, and the counter weights are expensive. I currently own two for just about $300. And they're not SS.

 

One of my other concerns is image scale. It seems I lose some of that if I use a larger aperture, so that is a drawback. Unfortunately, no one seems to think we could use some larger pixels on our CCDs. No, nothing available. Manufacturers seem to only cater to the popular vote, planetary imagers and visuals. No one seems to provide gear that falls outside that popularity. I could use 9mic pixels just to get a decent image scale. My image scale at present is below 1. If I bin at 2x2, that provides about a 1.2 image scale. Still not the best.

 

One problems is to simply understand how one scope works versus another, meaning what scope works best for what goal? A fork mounted 10in SCT or a 5in refractor on a massive EQ mount. What expectations am I allowed to assume?

 

These are some of the thoughts I am having. Again, thank you for everyone's comments.

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.



#6 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 24 April 2019 - 11:22 AM

Now that you mentioned it, it jogged my memory. I actually won a LX 600 at a astronomy show. Now that you mention it I do believe it came with StarLock as well as the wedge. When I looked at how big it was (the one I won was at the show as a demo) and the machinations to get it setup including hoisting that massive scope/fork onto the wedge I took the obligatory marketing photos and promptly sold the scope. It was just too big and too heavy and too much hassle to deal with.

And I am a big fan of Meade scopes. My second scope (my first one was a Celestron 8SE that was defective and almost drove me out of the hobby) was a LX 90 8”. I just wish they were more innovative in the same way Celestron and iOptron have been when it comes to mounts and did something about the weight of their tubes.

As I said above, if you are going to spend that kind of money then from my perspective it would be a better value add to invest in a high end mount and maybe with the difference in cost for a used mount invest in a second tube or a camera that helps you reduce complexity.

My first scope was a Meade 10in LX50 with out goto. It was this scope that allowed me to stumble onto M42. That sight made feel as humble as possible. My second scope was the classic Meade LX200 10in. I had that one for years. Put it on a Milburn Wedge. But it was mostly used for visuals. One of the other aspects about Meade, they have a crappy warranty compared to Celestron. This is extremely important. I owned the classic Celestron 11in HD three times. Two of them were rife with problems. The last one was sent back three times. That, in itself is a huge effort.

 

The other route I could take is keep the mount, sell the ACCESS and purchase a larger ap SCT. But this was a cumbersome setup I already had. Just trying to get the scope onto the mount was scary, like being on the verge of dropping the tube the whole time.

 

Thanks,

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.



#7 WadeH237

WadeH237

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4158
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 24 April 2019 - 12:57 PM

I can not see the polar star or drift align from my location.

Polaris is behind a tree from my normal imaging location, so I can't use my polar alignment scope (or any other method that depends on Polaris).  But I can drift align just fine.

 

What is it about your location that you cannot drift align?



#8 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 24 April 2019 - 01:39 PM

Hi,

 

I am surrounded by trees. No view North. I can't even see the pole star in winter. It is hidden also by a tree. I have a gap between trees on the East that maybe would allow about an hour of tracking. My South has trees but a few gaps. I can see Altair, but it doesn't take long to lose that target. My meridian is wide open. My West window is wide open, but I have to shoot over the house. My understanding that is not the best choice due to heat waves from the house.

 

Also, light pollution has become absurd. We live in a small waterfront community and all of sudden they decided to build the crap out of the place and now I can no longer see Andromeda or M42. Andromeda is also behind the trees now. M42 resides at the end of the street in our neighborhood. I could set up at the top of the driveway, but I am paranoid to expose all of this equipment in fear of enticing someone to bust down the door. At star parties no one knows who you are.

 

We have been looking at homes in other parts of the country but that's a huge endeavor. We have lived here for 30 years, imagine the amount of stuff we have accumulated. So we are approaching that option with some trepidation.

 

The only real choices at present are star parties and just loading up and heading out to a dark spot. But for that, we'll need a RV. Also, the last two years were storms or forest fires in Siberia that clouded out our skies. The Oregon Star Party is the same, forest fires blocking up the skies. Also, the Oregon Star Party holds their event right around the same time as our Table Mountain Star Party, so you can't go to both. The games people play.

 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it._grin

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.



#9 WadeH237

WadeH237

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4158
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 24 April 2019 - 02:05 PM

Everything that you say sounds very familiar :)

 

In my case, I have just about zero available sky to the north and west, due to trees.  I have a gap in the trees to the south where I can catch something for about an hour.  And I have about a 30 degree horizon in the east.

 

I have a better situation with light pollution, since most of my LP is to the southwest, which is largely blocked by trees.  I also live in a rural area, where none of my neighbors' lights can reach my back yard directly.  On a dry, moonless night, I can actually get pretty decent RGB exposures by catching an object when it rises above the tree line in the east, and then following it until it drops below the tree line in the west.  For being as close in as we are to the Seattle area, I am not complaining.

 

I'm familiar with Gig Harbor.  I would think that you'd have huge light pollution off to the west, but I would guess that your southern sky is better than mine, and there's not a whole lot of civilization to your west (trees notwithstanding).

 

I do attend Oregon Star Party each year.  I also attend Table Mountain on any year when it doesn't conflict with Oregon (which is not very often any more).  And I attend Golden State Star Party when it doesn't conflict with Table Mountain.  I also fit in a few of the smaller events in the Pacific Northwest, like Camp Delany, Pixieland and Brothers.  This is the last year for Pixieland, and Brothers is revamping and moving near Prineville, OR.  There's a new event that started last year called Logan Valley Star Party in northeast Oregon.  I'm thinking of trying that one this year, too.

 

It helps that I have a motorhome for longer stays (I'm at the OSP site for around 2 weeks each year), and have a truck camper for short stays, like Camp Delany - and even Golden State, which is typically 4 nights.

 

What I've found that really increases my productivity is automation.  I keep an imaging rig set up almost all the time on my property, so I can take advantages of intermittent clear nights (we might have one tonight).  I use SkyTools 4 to plan the objects I want to image.  I have a big list of objects, and it tells me which ones are favorable on any given night and location.  It even considers the tree line at my home.  That way, I never get stuck with what-am-I-going-to-image-tonight-itis.

 

The one suggestion that I might make is that, based on everything you just said, you should be thinking "smaller" and not just "simpler".  I think that you would benefit from a setup that you could reasonably pack in your car and get out a ways.  I would imagine that there are some nicely dark places on the Olympic Peninsula that are far more accessible to you, than they would be to me.

 

At the low end of this, you could do some nice wide field work with something as simple as an AVX, with an 80mm F/6 triplet and a one-shot-color CMOS camera.  Set up the imaging package with an OAG and a mini guide camera.  You could keep the scope, OAG, camera and guide camera assembled all the time and move them around as a single unit.  If you get an imaging camera with a built-in USB hub, then you would just need one USB cable and one power cable from a laptop to the telescope.  It would take just a few minutes to set up and polar align the AVX, and you could run the whole thing with a cheap laptop.

 

If you want to image with narrower fields, then you could go with something like and EdgeHD 8 scope with the F/7 reducer.  The camera package would the the same as I just described, but you'd need to step up the mount.  I have heard that a CEM60 is pretty light, and it should easily carry an EdgeHD 8, without breaking a sweat.  With a bigger budget, I would consider a Mach1 (or the new Mach2, but it's going to be less portable than the Mach1 for a few reasons).



#10 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 24 April 2019 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for the feedback,

 

Meade's LX600 (sorry, not 650) is a goto fork mount. The forks are split to decrease the lifting weight of the scope. Comes with starlock. Sells for just under $5K.

 

https://www.meade.co...d.html?___SID=U

 

One of my concerns is Polar Aligning and/or drift align. This is pretty much a requirement when using an EQ mount. I can not see the polar star or drift align from my location. I either have to move or set up a portable travel system such as an RV. Expensive either way.

 

But I do remember how I used to align my Celestron that seemed to work, while using the dedicated wedge.

 

Set up and tear down of my current system is an hours long process. I have to break the mount down into 6 parts before moving. After that, it's portable. Sure. This does not include the scope setup aspects. My Celestron was a piece of cake in comparison, and that was a big scope. Basically two parts to move. Albeit heavy.

 

There is the necessity for polar alignment and drift alignment while using an EQ mount which significantly adds to the complexity. The fact of balancing the mount axis and scope with accessories and cw additions are also time consuming, and the counter weights are expensive. I currently own two for just about $300. And they're not SS.

 

One of my other concerns is image scale. It seems I lose some of that if I use a larger aperture, so that is a drawback. Unfortunately, no one seems to think we could use some larger pixels on our CCDs. No, nothing available. Manufacturers seem to only cater to the popular vote, planetary imagers and visuals. No one seems to provide gear that falls outside that popularity. I could use 9mic pixels just to get a decent image scale. My image scale at present is below 1. If I bin at 2x2, that provides about a 1.2 image scale. Still not the best.

 

One problems is to simply understand how one scope works versus another, meaning what scope works best for what goal? A fork mounted 10in SCT or a 5in refractor on a massive EQ mount. What expectations am I allowed to assume?

 

These are some of the thoughts I am having. Again, thank you for everyone's comments.

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.

The biggest part of the problem seems to me after reading this that you are using a 65 lbs mount plus probably 4x11lbs counterweights for a total of 109 lbs of mount/cw/tripod for a 16.5 lbs telescope and maybe 10-15 lbs of additional equipment hanging off of it including rings and dovetail. nd that it is taking you hours to setup and take down...

 

And you didn't mention how long it takes to setup your imaging system. Assuming that those hours you speak of include setting up the imaging system if you are talking hours just to get things ready to go it is incredibly inefficient and time consuming. To get my mobile rig (Mach1+scope+CW+tripod+polar alignment via RAPAS) to the point where I am ready to start dialing things in is about a 10-15 minute process if I am being very slow about it and chatting with others. Granted I am working with a either a 101mm Tele Vue NP101is or a 120mm TSA-120 not a 125mm SV and a different CCD and or DSLR (I do both) but still, it really shouldn't be taking you hours...

 

One simple thing you can do is to mark the CW shaft with a sharpie were the top and the bottom of the CW are positioned when you balance everything. That way you just line up the weights between the two. You also mark the front spot of the dovetail and the back spot of it when the scope is balanced. This means you are not playing with balance and are pretty close  to where you need to be with only very small very minor adjustments.

 

Something to think about too... That LX 600 is 120 lbs fully assembled so you are looking at an increase in total weight of your imaging system by 11 lbs or so. That means it is going to be equally time consuming and difficult if not slightly more so to setup and tear down your system.

 

Ultimately you really want to be focusing on reducing weight and steps for assembly not increasing them.

 

For example, a Mach1 weighs 28 lbs, can be split into two parts relatively easily and quickly if that is a problem, is rated for 65 lbs of payload and is able to use a AP 150mm APO or even a Tak TOA 150mm APO for imaging.  And it will work with a EdgeHD 11" SCT so that leaves you some growth to other imaging scopes if that is the direction you are headed in. That is a substantial savings in terms of weight coming in at 37 lbs lighter just on the mount. CW's are a bit of a sticky wicket because they are expensive. However with your imaging system as is would mean a 14 lbs and 9 lbs CW from AP. Still $260 but again less weight overall.

 

Staying with the Losmandy series of mounts, a GM811G is 27 lbs and can support a 50 lbs imaging payload. You can also use your existing counterweights with is and the tripod. Switching mounts to either one will dramatically reduce your time spent setting up and tearing down because you are dropping the weight of the mount from by 37-38 lbs and you don't need 4x11 lbs CW to balance that scope either. Rule of thumb is a pound of CW for each pound of equipment. So assuming 26 lbs of gear on the mount you are looking at about 2 instead of 4 CW since 22lbs is close enough to the 26 that the weights will likely just end up a bit lower on the CW bar. Again you would be saving 38 lbs just on the mount weight by switching and still be fine imaging with the scope you has as well as a 11" SCT.

 

If you really enjoyed Celestron, the CGX isn't much heavier and does have the option to use StarSense for alignment, ASPA polar alignment, and the like. If you want a bit better quality mount as well as a mount that you can use in alt/az for visual and EQ for AP you can go with the Skywatcher AZ-EQ6. It also works with StarSense. if visual isn't important then there is the Skywatcher EQ6-R. It too works with StarSense.

 

What is confusing to me is that you could get a self reported "decent" (my word not yours) polar alignment with the wedge without using Polaris yet you say you can't drift align etc. To get a "decent" PA you would have to do some type of alignment that gets you close to the NCP. If you really can't drift align, do some form of ASPA, or see Polaris there is a simple way to get the mount pretty close just using a SmartPhone app like Sky Safari Pro. Here is the link on how to do it:

 

https://www.skyandte...olar-alignment/

 

If that doesn't work for you here is an option to do without a SmartPhone. It is AP specific but should work with other mounts:
 

https://www.cloudyni...ment/?p=5357438

 

Regarding pixel size, you are just out of luck. 



#11 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 24 April 2019 - 04:04 PM

My first scope was a Meade 10in LX50 with out goto. It was this scope that allowed me to stumble onto M42. That sight made feel as humble as possible. My second scope was the classic Meade LX200 10in. I had that one for years. Put it on a Milburn Wedge. But it was mostly used for visuals. One of the other aspects about Meade, they have a crappy warranty compared to Celestron. This is extremely important. I owned the classic Celestron 11in HD three times. Two of them were rife with problems. The last one was sent back three times. That, in itself is a huge effort.

 

The other route I could take is keep the mount, sell the ACCESS and purchase a larger ap SCT. But this was a cumbersome setup I already had. Just trying to get the scope onto the mount was scary, like being on the verge of dropping the tube the whole time.

 

Thanks,

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.

 

The Meade 10" is a heavy scope. The Celestron 11" EdgeHD is likely a better option for you for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is that you can get TEMPest fans for it. This cuts cool down time substantially (I see this from experience with my 8" and 11" EdgeHD's that I have had in the past and the 14" I have now) and keeps the scope cooled throughout the evening. You have the option to do Hyperstar imaging with it which is handy. And it will be lighter overall with everything than the Meade. Though for your use case with the trouble you have with PA the Hyperstar could be a huge benefit due to exposure times. 

 

But you really need to look at a lighter mount first. 



#12 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 24 April 2019 - 04:06 PM

Hi,

 

I am surrounded by trees. No view North. I can't even see the pole star in winter. It is hidden also by a tree. I have a gap between trees on the East that maybe would allow about an hour of tracking. My South has trees but a few gaps. I can see Altair, but it doesn't take long to lose that target. My meridian is wide open. My West window is wide open, but I have to shoot over the house. My understanding that is not the best choice due to heat waves from the house.

 

Also, light pollution has become absurd. We live in a small waterfront community and all of sudden they decided to build the crap out of the place and now I can no longer see Andromeda or M42. Andromeda is also behind the trees now. M42 resides at the end of the street in our neighborhood. I could set up at the top of the driveway, but I am paranoid to expose all of this equipment in fear of enticing someone to bust down the door. At star parties no one knows who you are.

 

We have been looking at homes in other parts of the country but that's a huge endeavor. We have lived here for 30 years, imagine the amount of stuff we have accumulated. So we are approaching that option with some trepidation.

 

The only real choices at present are star parties and just loading up and heading out to a dark spot. But for that, we'll need a RV. Also, the last two years were storms or forest fires in Siberia that clouded out our skies. The Oregon Star Party is the same, forest fires blocking up the skies. Also, the Oregon Star Party holds their event right around the same time as our Table Mountain Star Party, so you can't go to both. The games people play.

 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it._grin

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.

 LP is endemic to everyone in a metropolitan area. You are not alone in this. Fortunately if you do decide to sell Gig Harbor has become prime real estate. I know this because back in the 90's I had a boss who lived there. He worked out of the Seattle office while I was in LA. I got to see how nice GH was and planned to retire there. Fast forward to now and it is a different story. No longer affordable and much more crowded! 

 

Your options are looking into narrow band imaging (NB) or going to a dark(er) sky site to image. You don't have to camp. Or you can car camp. 



#13 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:58 PM

 LP is endemic to everyone in a metropolitan area. You are not alone in this. Fortunately if you do decide to sell Gig Harbor has become prime real estate. I know this because back in the 90's I had a boss who lived there. He worked out of the Seattle office while I was in LA. I got to see how nice GH was and planned to retire there. Fast forward to now and it is a different story. No longer affordable and much more crowded! 

 

Your options are looking into narrow band imaging (NB) or going to a dark(er) sky site to image. You don't have to camp. Or you can car camp. 

 


Hi, my sincere appreciation, there is a lot to consider.

 

Light Pollution is a given, I was trying to represent how much decay in the skies has occurred around here since we moved in. One last little irritant is the window I have in the East is currently blocked in one large area by tree limb. I want to cut that limb down. That would clear out the one window on the East. Any one object to removing a limb? I remember one person on these forums cut down one tree to give himself the perfect skies. He caught a lot of crap from members for cutting down that tree.

 

One thing I did which may have been a mistake, I had the money to buy a supreme mount that would take me to the end. I bought as much as I could afford. More is better in these cases I think. But admittedly, putting a small scope on this monster looks utterly stupid. I originally had a Meade LX850 10in f/8 and to me it looked like the perfect setup, everything just looked right. But that OTA was 35lbs fully stripped and came close to dropping it twice.

 

One last issue that came to me, I have to invest in one of Losmandy's extension tubes for the mount. With this refractor, using it visually in it's current state means I can not look at the meridian. So I need to raise the mount head. That wasn't an issue with the Meade.

 

I wanted to share my set up for further definition of what I am up against. The last image is where I set up for night skies. Everything is parked outside, run cables to my desktop, close the curtains and have fun. I run around the house with dark sunglasses during these episodes. My wife just looks at me with her amused eyes.

 

Thank you everyone. I will be reading all of these post over the next couple of days and will report back.

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 20190422_183451_2.jpg
  • 20190424_140205_2.jpg
  • 20190424_140224_1.jpg


#14 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 25 April 2019 - 11:57 AM

Anyone giving you a ration of fecal stuff for cutting a limb or a tree should mind their own business. It is your property do as you wish. And if you are worried about grief from here, just don't say anything. 

 

That setup doesn't look overly complicated it just looks heavy. With most of the weight being the mount. Those also look like 17 lbs Celestron CW. Are they? As I said this is where I would start looking for a way to reduce weight which I think will go a long way to fixing the challenges you have. As an aside I use the Berlebach Planet tripod for my remote work. It is the Losmandy version. The Mach1 has an adapter that lets me use it with a Losmandy mounting format. This way you could keep the very nice Losmandy Tripod you have and still mount a AP mount to it. I believe the Software Bisque MyT has something similar. For a Skywatcher or Celestron mount you can have a custom adapter machined for about $350 from TPI who is a vendor here. I did that for my CGX.

 

It also looks like an ASI CCD on there. One area you could cut back on in terms of wight and possible flexure problems would be to add a OAG to it. That will mean the guide scope will come off the imaging scope. You could put a handle where the guidescope is and create a way to more easily mount the scope with everything still attached to it. 

 

And I would also look at a Hyperstar EdgeHD 11 as an option. the CCD you have will work fine with it, your subexposure time is cut dramatically, your light gathering goes up, and so on.



#15 carolinaskies

carolinaskies

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1394
  • Joined: 12 Dec 2014
  • Loc: Greenville SC

Posted 25 April 2019 - 06:29 PM

Thanks for the feedback,

 

Meade's LX600 (sorry, not 650) is a goto fork mount. The forks are split to decrease the lifting weight of the scope. Comes with starlock. Sells for just under $5K.

 

https://www.meade.co...d.html?___SID=U

 

One of my concerns is Polar Aligning and/or drift align. This is pretty much a requirement when using an EQ mount. I can not see the polar star or drift align from my location. I either have to move or set up a portable travel system such as an RV. Expensive either way.

 

But I do remember how I used to align my Celestron that seemed to work, while using the dedicated wedge.

 

Set up and tear down of my current system is an hours long process. I have to break the mount down into 6 parts before moving. After that, it's portable. Sure. This does not include the scope setup aspects. My Celestron was a piece of cake in comparison, and that was a big scope. Basically two parts to move. Albeit heavy.

 

There is the necessity for polar alignment and drift alignment while using an EQ mount which significantly adds to the complexity. The fact of balancing the mount axis and scope with accessories and cw additions are also time consuming, and the counter weights are expensive. I currently own two for just about $300. And they're not SS.

 

One of my other concerns is image scale. It seems I lose some of that if I use a larger aperture, so that is a drawback. Unfortunately, no one seems to think we could use some larger pixels on our CCDs. No, nothing available. Manufacturers seem to only cater to the popular vote, planetary imagers and visuals. No one seems to provide gear that falls outside that popularity. I could use 9mic pixels just to get a decent image scale. My image scale at present is below 1. If I bin at 2x2, that provides about a 1.2 image scale. Still not the best.

 

One problems is to simply understand how one scope works versus another, meaning what scope works best for what goal? A fork mounted 10in SCT or a 5in refractor on a massive EQ mount. What expectations am I allowed to assume?

 

These are some of the thoughts I am having. Again, thank you for everyone's comments.

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.

The reason you see issues with the current crop of imaging chips is because that's where the manufacturers are headed... more small pixels on chips rather than less.   And today's chips in the dedicated cameras were in use a few years ago so it's only goint to get worse. 

A couple weeks back I bid and won a vintage Orion Starshoot OSC Pro which is a CCD, not CMOS.  It has nice large pixels (7.8) and with a 6.3 reducer works SCTs for image scale.  I was lucky and got if for very reasonable (they were like 1500 new many years ago when they came out but dropped to like $500 before being discontinued).  Of course it's the other big paint lid camera size instead of the compact put out now.  Specs: APS-size Sony ICX413AQ SuperHAD CCD. It is a 6.15 megapixel sensor with 7.8 micron square pixels.  This means manageable file sizes and true binning ability... 


Due to the current equatorial mount fad there are many people who don't understand it's not the total weight of the SCT system, it's the fewer bits and bobs which make fork mounts much nicer.   I started 20 years ago with forks and still like them for their aperture performance and ease of assembly.  The LX600 modular nature means it's actually less difficult to setup from weight handling perspective than the equivalent LX200(or celestron CPC).   While a 10" or 12" LX200 can be a handful, the LX600 equivalent w/seperate OTA/upper fork arm from the base means it's less of a challenge.  Alignment pins, etc make it more manageable.  The Starlock makes tracking much nicer.   If I had the money to plunk down for one I'd prefer it to my NEQ6.  If Meade actually created a LX600 sized 'L' single arm built sturdy I'd be all over that. 

Since Planewave came out with their L series I've been wondering if Meade would get brave and produce one.  People already are modding the CPC mounts to be like an L, especially the 11" so the message is clear... there is a segment that would buy one. My 16" LX200 is modular and if there was a single arm mount it would look similar to the Planewave just about 2/3 the size.  

Meade has come out with the small LX65 in this vein but it's plastic bodied, but if they scaled it up a bit and made it capable of holding up to a 12" I think it would give most EQ mounts a real challenge in the market.  Likewise if Planewave scaled the L350 down (100lb capacity) to say a 60-70lb mount in the $5-6K range it would make field assembly a joy.  
 



#16 Whichwayisnorth

Whichwayisnorth

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2906
  • Joined: 04 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Southern California

Posted 27 April 2019 - 12:33 PM

I'd warn you away from the mounts as Meade doesn't have the best track record for things with electronics and moving parts.



#17 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 27 April 2019 - 12:35 PM

Anyone giving you a ration of fecal stuff for cutting a limb or a tree should mind their own business. It is your property do as you wish. And if you are worried about grief from here, just don't say anything. 

 

That setup doesn't look overly complicated it just looks heavy. With most of the weight being the mount. Those also look like 17 lbs Celestron CW. Are they? As I said this is where I would start looking for a way to reduce weight which I think will go a long way to fixing the challenges you have. As an aside I use the Berlebach Planet tripod for my remote work. It is the Losmandy version. The Mach1 has an adapter that lets me use it with a Losmandy mounting format. This way you could keep the very nice Losmandy Tripod you have and still mount a AP mount to it. I believe the Software Bisque MyT has something similar. For a Skywatcher or Celestron mount you can have a custom adapter machined for about $350 from TPI who is a vendor here. I did that for my CGX.

 

It also looks like an ASI CCD on there. One area you could cut back on in terms of wight and possible flexure problems would be to add a OAG to it. That will mean the guide scope will come off the imaging scope. You could put a handle where the guidescope is and create a way to more easily mount the scope with everything still attached to it. 

 

And I would also look at a Hyperstar EdgeHD 11 as an option. the CCD you have will work fine with it, your subexposure time is cut dramatically, your light gathering goes up, and so on.

Dr. Who,

 

I am not using an OAG for one reason, I can not align the OAG mirror to my camera chip. They just will not line up. I have tried every adapter I own, I have read the ZWO site numerous times. I have talked to ZWO but they provided me the same information that was already on their site. I purchase Baader Scientific's T2 spacer rings, but they do not fit T2, too small. So they went into the garbage. So my ZWO OAG is now sitting in storage. That is why the guide camera is located on the 80mm finder scope. I added a beefy mount for the guide scope and there isn't any flexure that I am aware.

 

Thank you,

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.



#18 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 27 April 2019 - 12:41 PM

I'd warn you away from the mounts as Meade doesn't have the best track record for things with electronics and moving parts.

I have owned three Celestron 11in Edge HD scopes. Two were lemons. One had to go back to Celestron three times! The third time was due to a large glop of something on the primary mirror. The shipping concerns created serious stress, had to pay UPS to come pick the big monster up because I couldn't get that thing in the truck even with extreme effort. So as one might expect, I will not own Celestron any more and my experience with Meade is very old school, so I have no idea what their gear is like today. The LX600 looks like a solid foundation, and there seems to be quite a few positive comments on that scope.

 

Thanks,

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.


Edited by Gregory2012, 27 April 2019 - 12:50 PM.


#19 jgraham

jgraham

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 19884
  • Joined: 02 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Society

Posted 27 April 2019 - 03:05 PM

I own quite a few Meade's and Celestrons. Both are consistently very good. Meade had a hiccup with the original LX800 launch, but that seems to have been fixed with the LX850. The LX600 has a very good (hence quiet) track record.

 

Enjoy shopping around!



#20 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 28 April 2019 - 01:42 AM

Pity about the OAG. Honestly we’re it me I would be selling the CCD as well as everything related to it from that vendor and start looking for something that did work correctly. Poorly designed and/or manufactured equipment is a big bugaboo of mine...

A new CCD would solve some of your weight problems. As in removing the 80mm guider. Yes I know that is kind of baby out with the bath water thinking but as I said it is very annoying to me.

If Hyperstar isn’t an option for you and all you want to do is image, the RASA shows quite a bit of promise for the price and your existing equipment will work well with it. Though you can put the mount on a nice diet and get the GM811G or Mach 1...

#21 WadeH237

WadeH237

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4158
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 28 April 2019 - 06:59 AM

Pity about the OAG. Honestly we’re it me I would be selling the CCD...

Or you could just do what I posted here.

 

You can orient the OAG any way that you want, relative to the sensor.  And you can rotate the entire camera package any way you want, relative to the telescope.

 

I have an appreciation for well designed equipment and have no problem paying more for it when it makes sense.  But astrophotography is not a "plug and play" activity.  There's no system that you can just buy and set up that just works.  They all require some prerequisite knowledge and skills that need to be learned, and every setup will need to be customized in some way.

 

If you expect otherwise, you are going to be disappointed every time.



#22 dr.who

dr.who

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 13037
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2012

Posted 28 April 2019 - 01:50 PM

Good point Wade. For myself though if it is poorly engineered or manufactured the time I will spend trying to make it work is time away from what I am trying to enjoy with this part of the hobby, AP. My time is precious and anything that takes away from it needs to be justified against the success of the potential outcome from it. I am not sure how good the outcome would be.

#23 Gregory2012

Gregory2012

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Gig Harbor,WA.

Posted 06 May 2019 - 02:10 PM

Well to finalize, I am keeping everything as is and just learn how to use the equipment. I seem to be constantly struggling to come up with system that is simple yet capable and gives me what I want.

 

I am switching my goal to pier mount my Losmandy which is a joke frankly. I would have a pier that is at least 20ft tall, to gain access to the limited skies I have. The reason for such a tall pier is my setup sits on the second floor on my deck. That is because I have even less sky when I put the mount on the ground in the back yard. I then only get a Western sky and that shoots over my house.

 

Thank you everyone, you were amazingly helpful.

Gregory Gig Harbor, WA.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics