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LX-90 vs Evolution—stuff the optical considerations

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#1 Renae Gage

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 07:24 PM

Please read the title, read it again and take a few deep breaths.  This is not a rehash of the Meade vs. Celestron flame wars, nor an opportunity for you to point out all the nifty things you know about flat fields, coma and photographic image circles.  If you began salivating on notice of my thread title, Jonesing to enlighten the astigmatic masses on these matters, zip it.  This is not your thread.  Turn around and walk away.

 

Givens:

 

1.  I wish to purchase an 8” (or smaller, see question 7) catadioptric telescope.

2.  I have already decided (see above) that both the ACF and the Edge/HD have some degree of advantage over less corrected SCT’s.  I want one of these OTA’s, but either will suffice for me.

3.  I wish to purchase, simultaneously, an alt-az mount, because I ACTUALLY PREFER ALT/AZ  for viewing ergonomics and they are more than sufficient for lunar/planetary, which is the most I plan to image with this scope.  The main contenders are the LX-90 and the Evolution.  Wedge and GEM enthusiasts, please go outside and join the optical purists.  Feel free to make small talk with them and/or coach them on their breathing.

4.  I am pier mounting—I don’t much care about the tripod.

 

 

Out of bounds:

 

Any further discussion regarding the optical performance, real or imagined, of these instruments.

 

Stipulations:

 

A.  I know my way around the sky, but easy alignment is still a plus, I think.  More important, IMO, is storable alignment, since I will rarely if ever be moving the scope.  Power up and go.

B.  I had hoped to do this for about $1500, but the used market hasn’t been cooperating lately.  I’ll probably have to face a fact or two.  Nevertheless, I remain skeptical of packages that are just a foot in the door earning me the opportunity to spend $500+ in add-ons.

C.  I have been AP only for about 5 years.  I honestly haven’t looked through an eyepiece in at least 4, but I sort of miss it, and I have 6-7 good EP’s to put back into use, ranging from a 27 Pan to a 5 Nag.

D.  I sold a CGEM/C11 to finance this.  That combo was an insufferable space hog in my two pier, 9 x 13 observatory, and rarely reached thermal equilibrium in Minnesota conditions.

 

Questions for those remaining:

 

1.  Those of you who prefer/use the Evolution mount, how often do you direct the mount via a phone or tablet vs HC?  What effect does this have on your dark adaptation and/or the zen of observing for you?

2.  I have had a few Celestron mounts—one from circa 1995, and another from 2010.  They had the same hand controller, which ought to give us enough pause, but the Evo hand controller appears to be the same as well.  I thought it was a bit retro in 1995.  For those who have used both, is Meade’s HC any better?

3.  Regarding focusers, the stock Celestron is fine for low powers, but sketchy IMO for high, and worthless for planetary imaging focal lengths.  I would need to replace it.  I have seen some discussion to the effect that Meade’s stock focuser on the ACF LX-90 series flops less and possibly works differently/better.  Is this true?  If so is it sufficiently better to make a difference—in other words—would it still need to be adapted ($, e.g. JMI moto) due to shakiness or replaced ($$$, FT or similar) due to flop/anguish to image the moon and planets at f24-30?

4.  I’ve been picking on Celestron because I have owned several, but fess up Meade folk:   Are you kicking yourself that you didn’t get a vented OTA?  If you image, do you find yourself needing to re-Lymax multiple times per night?

5.  Feel free to tell me about actual, personal quality misadventures you have had with NEW purchases from either company, but do not (do not, do not) make sweeping statements about how one company does a better job with QA than the other, unless the sheer numbers of your purchases, split evenly between the platforms, is so vast that they are starting to have statistical validity.

6.  It’s OK to talk about Starsense as long as you don’t make this about Starsense.

7.  Does anyone want to throw a total curveball into the mix, advocating for another ALT/AZ mount (e.g. Ioptron ALT/AZ pro), a smaller tube (the grab and go goodness of a 6” SCT), or that sultry Russian Mak/Cass that, for you, was the one that got away?  

 

I hope that I have framed the discussion sufficiently well to limit rehash and fangirl/boyism without turning away those with something to contribute on the questions asked.  Two deep breaths please (10 for me)...and...go!

 

Renae


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#2 jgraham

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 08:09 PM

 I stick to those topics where I have first-hand experience…

 

2.  I have had a few Celestron mounts—one from circa 1995, and another from 2010.  They had the same hand controller, which ought to give us enough pause, but the Evo hand controller appears to be the same as well.  I thought it was a bit retro in 1995.  For those who have used both, is Meade’s HC any better?

 

I have used both. They are different, but I would not describe one as being ‘better’ that the other. Once you’ve got them figured out they both work fine.

 

3.  Regarding focusers, the stock Celestron is fine for low powers, but sketchy IMO for high, and worthless for planetary imaging focal lengths.  I would need to replace it.  I have seen some discussion to the effect that Meade’s stock focuser on the ACF LX-90 series flops less and possibly works differently/better.  Is this true?  If so is it sufficiently better to make a difference—in other words—would it still need to be adapted ($, e.g. JMI moto) due to shakiness or replaced ($$$, FT or similar) due to flop/anguish to image the moon and planets at f24-30?

 

The image shift on my modern Meade’s is negligible. For precision work I still like to add either a Moonlite or a Meade micro-focuser, particularly for high resolution planetary imaging (f/30). Image shift aside, for me an electric focuser is a must-have for planetary imaging.

 

4.  I’ve been picking on Celestron because I have owned several, but fess up Meade folk:   Are you kicking yourself that you didn’t get a vented OTA?  If you image, do you find yourself needing to re-Lymax multiple times per night?

 

No. I use a Lymax as part of my initial setup. I have never had to use it again even during an all-night imaging run. However, I am intrigued by some of the recent discussion of insulating the OTA.

 

5.  Feel free to tell me about actual, personal quality misadventures you have had with NEW purchases from either company, but do not (do not, do not) make sweeping statements about how one company does a better job with QA than the other, unless the sheer numbers of your purchases, split evenly between the platforms, is so vast that they are starting to have statistical validity.

 

I haven’t had any problems with new gear. Now my original LXD75 was another story, quickly fixed, but that’s ancient history. :)

 

7.  Does anyone want to throw a total curveball into the mix, advocating for another ALT/AZ mount (e.g. Ioptron ALT/AZ pro), a smaller tube (the grab and go goodness of a 6” SCT), or that sultry Russian Mak/Cass that, for you, was the one that got away? 

The absolute best OTA that I have ever used is the Meade Mak 7. They are no longer produced, but they do show up on the used market. I ended up with two; one for visual (an an LX90 mount) and the other for visual (an on Atlas). It is a fantastic high resolution scope and with modern UWA eyepieces does a fine job with deep sky. Love it!

 

Enjoy!

 

 


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#3 Renae Gage

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 02:16 AM

The image shift on my modern Meade’s is negligible. For precision work I still like to add either a Moonlite or a Meade micro-focuser, particularly for high resolution planetary imaging (f/30). Image shift aside, for me an electric focuser is a must-have for planetary imaging.

 
I agree, although if mirror flop isn't a problem, the electronic solution may be merely a motor to turn the stock knob for ~$200 vs. a completely different focuser PLUS a motor to run it for ~$600. The difference between having one problem (jiggling the mount while focusing) and two (jiggling the mount plus an unstabilized mirror) turns out to be rather expensive. Out of curiosity, do you know why there is less shift in the Meade? What is the mechanism?
 

The absolute best OTA that I have ever used is the Meade Mak 7. They are no longer produced, but they do show up on the used market. I ended up with two; one for visual (an an LX90 mount) and the other for visual (an on Atlas). It is a fantastic high resolution scope and with modern UWA eyepieces does a fine job with deep sky. Love it!


As you probably are aware, Celestron is picking up where Meade left of with a 7" f15 Mak:

https://optcorp.com/...-cassegrain-ota

It's being marketed with the CGEM-II mount. I'm guessing that it's both too heavy and too long for the Evolution mount. I also doubt it would ever reach thermal equilibrium in my conditions. A 5-6"? Maybe...

#4 jgraham

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 09:09 AM

Heh, heh, all of my Meade Micro-focusers were bought used where they often sell for $75-$150. The tricky bit was finding one with a handbox (if I recall right the JMI handbox also works with the Meade focuser). Also, if I recall right the micro-focuser doesn't work with the LX90 (it interfaces to the handbox through a connector on the mount's power panel). I haven't checked since I set my fine focuser with my computer via a clever little interface box and utility from Shoestring.  When imaging the planets at f/30 I check the focus between each image set using a Bahtinov mask on a nearby star. The precision of the electric micro-focuser is wonderful with zero image shift when changing directions making this a very easy process.

 

There are many ways to achieve a happy result. :)

 

I'm curious about the new Maks. The Mak 7 is something of a unique piece of kit with an over-sized primary and the best optics that I have ever seen in a production telescope. Another nice feature is an amazingly flat, coma-free field. I feel very fortunate to have scored two of them; one from LX50 production (my imaging Mak 7) and the other from LX200GPS production (my visual Mak 7 that is now on an LX90 mount).

 

Have fun shopping around, that 's the fun part!


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#5 Renae Gage

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Posted 20 May 2019 - 12:14 PM

I just spoke to Losmandy. They say that the Gemini 2 system will run on their AZ8 mount. That's a lot of coin--$2500 for just the mount--but if someone were intent on running two OTA's or at least one larger one, that's a pretty compelling platform.

#6 Renae Gage

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 04:22 PM

If I’m reading the traffic pattern correctly, when the discussion involves the ACF vs HD optics, opinions are legion and often held with near-religious fervor, but if the discussion involves the other features of the instruments, it’s mostly...

 

 cricket.gif

 

Hopefully this his means that one can’t go wrong either way—a nifty safety feature in any decision.

 

waytogo.gif



#7 crn3371

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 04:40 PM

I posted the same question over in the mounts forum and basically got the same response, zilch. FWIW, I went with the Evolution mount on the basis of convenience. I’m sure any of the dual fork mounts are more stable, but you’re locked into the complete package. With the Evo I can swap out ota’s, even use a small apo. Then there’s the built in battery and WiFi, along with the ability to break things down into lighter packages. And lastly, there appears to be way more online support for Celestron. Granted, the LX90 owners seem to be a loyal bunch, but post a Meade question and you’ll get a few responses, post a Celestron question and you’ll get a few pages.

#8 carolinaskies

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 05:05 PM

I'm curious if you've considered the new LX65 which is more similar to the Evolution than the LX90.  It's Alt-az only, no wedge apparently and can accept multiple OTAs including one on the outboard side.   

Personally either of the 8" will perform for your intended use, I happen to favor the Meade as it is cheaper to buy and accessories for the OTA aren't an arm and a leg.  Reflectix seems to make fans less a necessity on the SCTs now so that advantage in near moot.  Celestron has a new electric focuser add-on which can be computer controlled which is a plus, many are finding that enough vs adding an external crayford focuser which can impose back-clearance issues with these mounts depending on the type of imager used.  

The newer Nexstar+ hand control includes a micro-USB port so hookup to computers is much easier than ever. 

The ACF/Edge scopes definitley get snatched up quick on the second hand market and often aren't much less than retail.  



#9 crn3371

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 05:10 PM

Not a lot of information out there on the LX65, but what little there is mostly negative.

#10 carolinaskies

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 05:32 PM

Not a lot of information out there on the LX65, but what little there is mostly negative.

Very little information though I've heard more positives lately than negatives personally.   There was one fellow who somehow got two that had cosmetic issues and never got around to actually using the mounts.  While that report is negative, it does little to actually inform about performance. 

There is a recent thread where someone has received one and it looks in good order according to his accounts, but no repsonses yet on actual performance, just a video of the mount sitting at least outside in the field.    

For the price point $499 for just the mount if it performs it could be a viable choice.  If it can handle an 8" for planetary that would be very nice.  But even if it was limited to say a 6" on the main side I'd still see it as a definite upgrade from an ETX type model. 



#11 Renae Gage

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 09:57 PM

With the Evo I can swap out ota’s, even use a small apo.


Legit. I've thought about this, but then again, the plan is to buy one scope (Yeah, I know...), not a quiver-full.

Then there’s the built in battery and WiFi, along with the ability to break things down into lighter packages.


The built in battery prevents cord-wrap, which definitely happened with Nexstar ~20 years ago.

And lastly, there appears to be way more online support for Celestron. Granted, the LX90 owners seem to be a loyal bunch, but post a Meade question and you’ll get a few responses, post a Celestron question and you’ll get a few pages.


Meh. Number of devotées is worth something, but doesn't always point to the better choice.

#12 Renae Gage

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 10:07 PM

I'm curious if you've considered the new LX65 which is more similar to the Evolution than the LX90.  It's Alt-az only, no wedge apparently and can accept multiple OTAs including one on the outboard side.   

Personally either of the 8" will perform for your intended use, I happen to favor the Meade as it is cheaper to buy and accessories for the OTA aren't an arm and a leg.  Reflectix seems to make fans less a necessity on the SCTs now so that advantage in near moot.  Celestron has a new electric focuser add-on which can be computer controlled which is a plus, many are finding that enough vs adding an external crayford focuser which can impose back-clearance issues with these mounts depending on the type of imager used.  

The newer Nexstar+ hand control includes a micro-USB port so hookup to computers is much easier than ever. 

The ACF/Edge scopes definitley get snatched up quick on the second hand market and often aren't much less than retail.


I've thought about it, but it doesn't have much of a history yet. The same could (sort of) be said about the Evolution, and early adopters of the Evo paid a bit of a price in terms of being unpaid bug-testers.

Additionally, and this is totally my irrational quirk, the slantiness weirds me out a bit, even if the advantage in terms of balance delivers.

#13 RogeZ

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Posted 21 May 2019 - 10:18 PM

Two little points based on my exp:

If you are looking for a alt-az mounted scope that will be pier mounted a LX200 or CPC are better choices. I love the HD series and in CPC form they are very nice.

Remember that due to the corrector lenses, neither acf nor hd are lymax compatible but tempest fans can be used on HD.

#14 Traxx

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 09:03 AM

Q.1 - I operate my EVO mount with an IPad, using Sky Portal and Sky Safari Pro 6. Both have a night vision mode where everything is Red tinted. I prefer the Sky Safari Pro. My ZEN is intact. 

 

Q.2 - On the Hand controller. I left the HC plugged in during my first use and it did get wrapped about 3/4 of the way around. I unplugged it and tried the IPad apps and am able to do everything from them. 

 

Q.6 - I have the Star sense installed and it makes it easy and quick to get alignment. Controllable from the App on IPad. 

 

Disclaimer- I am a total and complete noob at this, and I think that the EVO mount has made it very easy for me to get started. 



#15 treadmarks

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 09:11 AM

If I’m reading the traffic pattern correctly, when the discussion involves the ACF vs HD optics, opinions are legion and often held with near-religious fervor, but if the discussion involves the other features of the instruments, it’s mostly...

 

 cricket.gif

 

Hopefully this his means that one can’t go wrong either way—a nifty safety feature in any decision.

 

waytogo.gif

I like the thread topic, because at this point I'd go so far as to say that my mount has made a bigger difference in whether I've had a good observing session than "optical quality," especially if aperture is left out of the "optical quality" heading. I think the problem may just be that there's not a lot of people who have actually owned and used both and are browsing this forum.



#16 carolinaskies

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 03:05 PM

Two little points based on my exp:

If you are looking for a alt-az mounted scope that will be pier mounted a LX200 or CPC are better choices. I love the HD series and in CPC form they are very nice.

Remember that due to the corrector lenses, neither acf nor hd are lymax compatible but tempest fans can be used on HD.

Not sure where you are getting the information, but the ACF doesn't use an internal corrector like the Edge, therefore a Lymax cooler is an option.  The main difference between the ACF and a standard SCT is the ACF’s non-spherical secondary mirror which flattens the field vs the spherical in the standard SCTs.  The Edge uses a corrector in the baffle tube, thereby sealing the airway which is why the passive vents were added to the model line.  

 



#17 dr.who

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 05:12 PM

 

 

Questions for those remaining:

 

1.  Those of you who prefer/use the Evolution mount, how often do you direct the mount via a phone or tablet vs HC?  What effect does this have on your dark adaptation and/or the zen of observing for you?

2.  I have had a few Celestron mounts—one from circa 1995, and another from 2010.  They had the same hand controller, which ought to give us enough pause, but the Evo hand controller appears to be the same as well.  I thought it was a bit retro in 1995.  For those who have used both, is Meade’s HC any better?

3.  Regarding focusers, the stock Celestron is fine for low powers, but sketchy IMO for high, and worthless for planetary imaging focal lengths.  I would need to replace it.  I have seen some discussion to the effect that Meade’s stock focuser on the ACF LX-90 series flops less and possibly works differently/better.  Is this true?  If so is it sufficiently better to make a difference—in other words—would it still need to be adapted ($, e.g. JMI moto) due to shakiness or replaced ($$$, FT or similar) due to flop/anguish to image the moon and planets at f24-30?

4.  I’ve been picking on Celestron because I have owned several, but fess up Meade folk:   Are you kicking yourself that you didn’t get a vented OTA?  If you image, do you find yourself needing to re-Lymax multiple times per night?

5.  Feel free to tell me about actual, personal quality misadventures you have had with NEW purchases from either company, but do not (do not, do not) make sweeping statements about how one company does a better job with QA than the other, unless the sheer numbers of your purchases, split evenly between the platforms, is so vast that they are starting to have statistical validity.

6.  It’s OK to talk about Starsense as long as you don’t make this about Starsense.

7.  Does anyone want to throw a total curveball into the mix, advocating for another ALT/AZ mount (e.g. Ioptron ALT/AZ pro), a smaller tube (the grab and go goodness of a 6” SCT), or that sultry Russian Mak/Cass that, for you, was the one that got away?  

 

I hope that I have framed the discussion sufficiently well to limit rehash and fangirl/boyism without turning away those with something to contribute on the questions asked.  Two deep breaths please (10 for me)...and...go!

 

Renae

OK... The other stuff out of the way... And speaking from personal experience including bringing a 8" SCT from a 75 degree F car to a 22 degree F observing site so facing a 53 degree F delta in temps...

 

I owned and used a LX-90 8" and an SE version of the Celestron mount, and a 8" EdgeHD scope as well. From the mount perspective in terms of features the Evo is far better. I have seen and used it in person. It works well for what it is. A single armed mount. Since you are putting this on a pier there is zero advantage of one over the other (LX vs. EVO) from a weight perspective. The LX will likely be better since it is a two arm fork. Advantage for AP to LX. However the feature set of the EVO, as noted, is better. And I have and do use a smartphone to control the Skywatcher AZ-GTi, DM6/Losmandy AZ8 with Nexus DSC, and AP Mach1 mounts I have. It will affect your dark vision. But the features that the smartphone bring to the table for visual use are nice to have. 

 

The focuser on both scopes are rubbish. On the Celestron side I replace all my Celestron scopes (EdgeHD 14", 11", 8". Currently I only own the 14") with the Feathertouch micro focuser replacement. This works splendly. And is well worth the investment.

 

Starsense is OK for your use case since I don't believe the Celestron mounts or for that matter the Skywatcher ones will remember where they are and their alignment after power is turned off. It just automates the alignment process. I use it at outreach events where I am in a bright parking lot or other location and can't naked eyeball stars for alignment. It does this well for me. 

 

The other benefit to the EdgeHD version of the scope, and this is a big one for me where I have big temp swings initially and temps dropping during the night, is that it has not only vents but the TEMPest fan system available to it. This means you can ensure TE during the entire session since the fans can run while you are imaging and keep the scope at TE. 

 

Another mount to consider is the Skywatcher/Orion (same mount, Orion has the contract to sell it in the US) AZ-EQ6. It is a EQ and alt/az mount. In alt/az mode it can hold two scopes. Not relevant to your use case but just pointing it out. It has a StarSense option for it too. And it handles the scope for imaging better than the EVO does. Though I would recommend the ADM Accessories saddle replacement for it. 

 

At the end of the day the EdgeHD will likely have the features you want/need. Mount is up to you.



#18 RogeZ

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Posted 22 May 2019 - 07:45 PM

CarolinaSkies:

You are right! Hyperbolic secondary on the ACF but no corrector. For some reason I thought my 6” ACF had a corrector inside....the HD does. Thanks for the correction.

#19 Craig Smith

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 04:20 PM

With weight not being an issue I would second the suggestion of an LX200 or CPC.  Although more expensive initially I have seen good CPCs on the used market for as little as $1k.  TThe Evo and LX90 are definitely harder to find because they are such good all-around options.

 

When I researched this before, this is what I got:  the LX90 is more stable, but people love the Evo battery and wifi features.

 

I have had other Celestron and Meade models, but unfortunately don't remember which controller I liked better.  The focuser on my Meade was better than the Celestron, although when I researched this before others had the opposite experience.  But an SCT focuser will never be very good by virtue of its design.  An electric one helps, but I bought an LX200 specifically so I'd have enough clearance for a crayford-style focuser.  I don't know if the others have enough clearance.  I also wanted to be able to handle a binoviewer.  One advantage of the Evo is that you can adjust the balance of the OTA with heavier accessories, although you can add weights to the others.



#20 Astronomy4You

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:46 PM

Hopefully I'm not late jumping in here. I own several Meade autostar based telescopes an have in the past owned others. I also own a Losmandy G-11 and a Celestron EVO 9.25 (non edge). Here's my take on things.

 

I like the Meade alignment process better than the Celestron. With Meade, once the date/time/location are entered (either manually or via the GPS on such equipped mounts) you select the star to align on and the scope slews to it and you center and confirm it. With the Celestron, you have to slew to the object and then center and confirm then move to the next alignment object. A much more manual process, albeit one that does not require you to know what you're pointing at. Once aligned however both are accurate at go-tos.

 

Around the time Meade came out with the Lightswitch versions of the single fork mount they changed the focuser on the SCTs. It used to have a harder stop at each end of the focuser range. With the advent of the lightswitch version of the SCTs they did away with the hard stop. The 1st night out with my LS 8" I was trying to focus the scope and the focuser mechanisim popped inside the scope. Now I was not new to Meade nor SCTs having owned a 10" LX-200, and ETX-105 neither of those had an issue. I brought back to the telescope shop and got a replacement. The owner of the shop (who has been around scopes his whole life having worked for OPT, Scope City, Meade etc...) took out the replacement and in the store tested the focuser and the same thing happens to him. So at this point I have a dim view of the current Meade scopes.

 

The focuser on the EVO 9.25 is okay, but I'm probably going to replace it with either a feathertouch dual speed knob like I did on my 10" LX200 or possibly an electric crayford style focuser.

 

I like being able to use my phone and sky safari 6 to control the scope, but you can't use both the hand controller and the phone/tablet, it has to be one or the other.The LX90 is not compatible with Sky safari without purchasing a separate Wifi adapter to the best of my knowledge. 




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