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Cn Report: Meade 12" LightBridge Deluxe

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#1 Tom T

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 07:21 PM

article

#2 macastronomer

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 09:48 PM

Nice review. I agree with all your comments, as I have recently received my 12" LB Deluxe. It has been with me to the back yard a few times and travelled with it a few times, one time to my dark sky site (not including the time it went there and found only clouds).

Traveling with it is really easy. After toting my LX200, battery and other equipment; the light bridge is a dream.

My mirror cover came with the velcro, which works well. There was still a very slight blemish on my mirror when it arrived. I expect something new to come perfect, but I felt more like viewing than complaining.

The Howie Glatter collimator is very easy to use with this scope. I can collimate pretty quickly and with the white target adapter, I can get this thing perfect every time, and it does need collimating—every-single-time.

The red dot finder is slick and finding objects is a cinch. As for the included eyepiece, the eye relief is terrible. I can't wear my glasses or I get a terrible effect that I've never seen in an eyepiece before. If I take my glasses off and put my eye right up to the glass, everything is fine.

The adjustment to tighten azimuth works well, but I too experience the trouble with heavier eyepieces (when observing low). It would be nice if that were adjustable. I may have to look at some magnet weights as you suggested.

I have one peeve that you didn't mention. The primary collimation adjustment screws stick out beyond the lip of the box (or cylinder in this case). When the top is removed to transport (in some cases only 20 feet to avoid foliage and other obstructions), if you place the box on the ground to move the base, the screws stick out and work like feet. The weight of the cylinder is placed squarely on the screws. This can wreak havoc on your collimation.

I suggest getting three extra feet (like the ones on the bottom of the base) and use something to stick/glue them to the bottom of the cylinder. That would allow placement without the screws touching the ground.

Thanks for the AstroZap info. I will be giving them some money soon. It sure beats trying to make one myself.

Great report and I agree that the scope is a wonderful product. I'm extremely happy with the aperture for the price. It is amazing on globs and pulls in deep fuzzies very well. I recently had an amazingly stabile atmosphere one evening while viewing Jupiter and saw amazing detail with it. A 5x powermate with my Meade 40mm 4000 series was my favorite glass that night, followed closely by a naked 5mm Radian.

Thanks for the well written article.

#3 Tom T

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 08:19 AM

I have one peeve that you didn't mention. The primary collimation adjustment screws stick out beyond the lip of the box (or cylinder in this case). When the top is removed to transport (in some cases only 20 feet to avoid foliage and other obstructions), if you place the box on the ground to move the base, the screws stick out and work like feet. The weight of the cylinder is placed squarely on the screws. This can wreak havoc on your collimation.


Excellent point. I noted this, but forgot to mention it in my write up. I'll go back and add it now.

Thanks!

Tom T.

#4 Starman1

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 09:36 AM

Tom,

1.The rumored altitude tensioner now comes standard on the Deluxe version of the scope. In addition to providing drag with heavy eyepieces at low altitudes (where the scope tends to fall), it also doubles as an altitude "brake" for eliminating movement when changing eyepieces.

2.Per recommendations on this board and the LightBridge Yahoo group, a metal washer has been added to the plastic secondary housing so the collimation screws do not press directly against the plastic housing. Users were noting that this created "dimples" in the plastic and made rotation of the secondary (for fine collimation) nearly impossible. The washer enables the rotation.

3. The two-speed focuser drop-in is a nice thing, but I find that by setting the tension knob perfectly that the focus motion is smooth enough for the single-speed focuser to work quite well. I also prefer the two knobs under the focuser, and find a 45 degree angle to put them there for nearly all altitudes. Having a rotatable focuser is a very nice feature on this scope, but Meade did not provide a hex wrench to do it--the user will have to have his own.

4.The secondary collimation screws are metric, and, while easily replaced with thumbscrews for tool-less collimation, finding metric thumbscrews may be difficult in some smaller towns.

5.The "stop" on the finder bracket is installed on the scope backwards. If the finder's attachment screw is loosened, the finder will fall to the ground, or, worse, fall on the mirror. All owners should unscrew the two attachment screws that hold the finder bracket base to the UTA and reverse it so the finder bracket inserts from the top. This will also necessitate installing the finder on its bracket in the reverse direction. This takes a minute or two, but will prevent the "accident" I described above.

6. It's possible to install the mirror box backwards in the rocker box. If the scope is moved in altitude in this configuration, the two truss tube attachment knobs will hit and damage the rocker box. It should be noted (but Meade does not in their assembly instructions) that the scope MUST be assembled with the truss attachment pole locations (on the mirror box) at 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock, and 6 o'clock (looking at the scope from the front of the optical tube, toward the mirror).

Other than the twenty or so modifications suggested by other users (stiffer springs, black painting on the tube "rings", pipe insulation on the truss tubes, stiffening the base with side brackets, etc.), this scope comes pretty much ready to use.

Don

#5 Tom T

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 10:06 AM

Other than the twenty or so modifications suggested by other users (stiffer springs, black painting on the tube "rings", pipe insulation on the truss tubes, stiffening the base with side brackets, etc.), this scope comes pretty much ready to use.


My impression as well.

#6 Downward Bound

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 02:39 PM

Tom

Thanks for I think is a very well detailed, accurate and impartial review. While I’ve had my LB12 for about a month now, given the PNW weather, that equates to a half a dozen or so nights of use and all from my urban home. I’m dying to get this to my dark site on a clear, stable and moonless night.

First on value, I looked at Teeters, Obsession, StarSplitter, etc. and while I clearly would have preferred any one of many other 12” truss scopes on the market, at $1 Grand v. $3K+ for the others – for me it was either the LB or nothing. Maybe in a few years I’ll stash enough to upgrade to one – or maybe I’ll keep the LB12 and add a 14”, 16” or larger. The point is that for $1K I have a 12” scope I can use today – and I knew going in it wasn’t going to be a top-drawer set-up and would likely require a number of tweaks. And so far, I’m loving it.

Mine arrived intact without damage to any of the contents. The primary cover was held in place by 3 pads of Velcro. Assembly was quick and straight forward. The supplied directions were minimalist (how hard can it be right?) but adequate for all assembly but lacked detail for the “approximate 1/8 inch offset” recommended in collimation – some better instructions, diagrams, examples here would have made this point much easier to digest/execute.

The base for the finder came mounted backwards as Don noted. So turned it 180 degrees so that the finder won’t fall out. The supplied directions showed only information on mounting the standard model finder, so deluxe owners are left to figure this error out for themselves! I’d originally planned to replace the finder with a Telrad, but after using the RDF I think I’ll leave it as is for now. I like the adjustability of both the finder type and intensity levels. However, the position of the straight-through RDF from a seated position is inconvenient at best – in fact even standing it’s not convenient. I’ve ordered a RACI finder to use with the RDF.

The lack of thumb screws on both the primary and the secondary are obvious misses. I see that Scope Stuff is offering secondary thumb screws for the LB – and I’ve heard other CNers have sourced both from Bob’s Knobs. Meade should ship it stock with these.

As for the base, I like the fact that it’s fairly light weight as portability (and storage) was a concern for me when I chose this type of scope. I agree with Tom that it’s not as stable as it should be but I would have preferred to have the stock base to be of the folding variety instead. It seems to me that ideally it would be good to have two: one stronger, more stable (albeit heavier) base to use and leave at home and a second folding base that was lighter and easier to transport. So far I have found the tension of both the ALT and AZ to work just fine for now – I’m also curious about the longevity of the felt in the bearings. Mine didn’t arrive with the ALT tension brake Don mentions but I’ve heard others comment about the brake scoring the bearing. I’m happy with the counter-balance method. I’ve used a couple of my kids’ magnet toys to balance heavier EP at low angles – I’m going to order a set of those from DBA to upgrade my “look”.

I am totally dissatisfied with the QX26mm EP packaged with the deluxe model. I would have preferred to have a decent shroud instead for about the same money ($90) – or better yet $90 toward a Nagler! Now I have 2 Meade 26mm EP I don’t use. I have been completely satisfied with the supplied focuser (for the price) – no immediate plans to change anything there.

Feet on the bottom of the mirror box are a must for the reasons noted by all.

I’ve been surprised how well mine has held collimation – I followed a suggestion posted in another forum and have labeled my trusses and tubes so that I re-assemble it the same each time – that seems to get my collimation fairly close to start off. I’ve not experienced the problems with the primary springs that others have. But just to be safe I’m going to replace the stock ones with heavier springs before the stock ones lose strength.

I agree that all of the noted mods and upgrades are things anyone will want to do to make the LB function at its best. But I do want to point out that I was able enjoy good viewing within about an hour of cracking the first box. For $1K per foot of aperture it delivers good value as is. It will only get better if you follow the suggested tweaks – most of which I believe Meade should include as standard as none should add to the base cost.

#7 Todd

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 06:39 AM

IIRC, the manual says that the seam on the rocker box always faces the front (or maybe the back---I can't remember right now), ensuring that it is always placed facing the right direction.

6. It's possible to install the mirror box backwards in the rocker box. If the scope is moved in altitude in this configuration, the two truss tube attachment knobs will hit and damage the rocker box. It should be noted (but Meade does not in their assembly instructions) that the scope MUST be assembled with the truss attachment pole locations (on the mirror box) at 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock, and 6 o'clock (looking at the scope from the front of the optical tube, toward the mirror).

Don



#8 ForgottenMObject

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 07:05 AM

Great report!

All of the Asian scopes as far as I know have the poor finder bracket design where the stop is on the bottom instead of the top; if the thumbscrew loosens, there is nothing preventing the finder from sliding out and crashing to the ground.

#9 erik

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 06:01 PM

nice review, tom!! :)

#10 macastronomer

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 12:10 AM

What's with the Alt break? I got my LB Deluxe very recently and It doesn't appear to have anything like that. What does it look like?

Duane

#11 Starman1

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 09:52 AM

It's a small piece of spring-loaded plastic that, when a knob is tightened, presses against the outside of the aluminum side trunnion. Its purpose is to increase the friction in the altitude direction to allow the scope to be used at low altitude without diving, and to have its eyepieces changed without heading for the zenith.

#12 Tom T

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 02:54 AM

John Rombi has done some excellent improvements/upgrades to his lightbridge and comments on them in this thread down in the reflectors forum. Anyone who is thinking about a lightbridge or owns a lightbridge should check this out.

Tom T.

#13 Spinning

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 09:13 AM

Thanks for the excellent review on the Lightbridge and for everyone's advice on improving it after purchase. This seems to be the perfect choice for us because it means we can transport some aperture in a small car without spending big bucks.

So, I was wondering if anyone had the dimensions of the assembled base and the tubes so that I can figure out if I can buy the 12”, or need to limit myself to the 10” or 8”. I have seen a 10" and it appears that it will fit easily into either of our small cars without intruding into the passenger space. However, I would rather get the 12" if one would fit.

Any help will be very much appreciated.

#14 Tom T

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 09:07 PM

Thanks Mike.

I no longer have the scope, but hopefully someone can help you out either here or in the reflectors forum.

T


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