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review of the new MEADE LX65 8"

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#1 daslolo

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 06:12 AM

I just received mine today, which, following tradition, was a cloudy day, so i had a go at it during day time. I'll add photos and youtubes later on as i narrow down the bells and quirks of this unit.
Since it's brand new, nobody knows how dependable in the long run, so my plan is to do a month long burn in, letting it run all day to see if the mount will hold up for years. This will need preparation to avoid accidents.

 

 

THE HARDWARE

 

Looks

I like industrial aesthetic and this looks gorgeous in person. Some people dislike the blue from the photos, fear not for it is much darker an saturated IRL, which gives off an offbeat classy attitude - this mount is like James Bond, he doesn't care.

 

Build
The shell is plastic but that didn't bother me as it feels rugged.
The mount and tripod are surprisingly sturdy, light and easy to carry, the spreader is crap plastic and won't last. The 8" tube is sturdy but crazy light with a nice crisp metallic focuser . The entire unit is very easy to put together - this will be used a lot, if it survives the burn-in period.
Turn that **** knob to focus the 8" and it wobbles. Tighten that alt lock handle hard and the wobble is equivalent to the old cpc 925 i had, when viewing trees through the 2" 40mm eyepiece (not much magnification so maybe that's why).
I didn't even bother mounting the toy viewfinder.

 

Motors
The motors are fast and very quiet. By user mistake they started tracking which showed me how smooth they are.
I they can easily move the 8" + 2" diagonal and a fat 2" handgrenade.
The secondary mount you ask? After struggling with the dovetail which wouldn't fit i measured it and realized it was a losmandy adaptateur i bought by mistake, so i'm waiting for a vixen replacement to install the PST on the secondary mount. Sun tomorrow? One can dream.

 

Electronic
The hand unit is needed to move in az so you know it is slow at booting up.
I'm so used to convoluted antique softwares that alignment feels almost too easy. Past the alignment, though, I am back at home in the land it confusion: the menu structure is ... creative - i somehow turned on auto tracking  and when I somehow turned that off, it started talking me through the cosmos.
I'm sure i'll get used to the logic once I read the manual.
So i did the unexpected: I took a glance at the manual, which is very well written and illustrated, and I learned that you can design your own tour via a scripting language. I'm way too chaotic for any kind of tour but for outreach this is absolutely fab!

 

 

THE VIEWING

 

Daytime observation through the new super light 8" ACF:
Focus knob takes up to 10 turns as is customary with SC.
1.25mm looks like garbage. that's with all the eyepieces i had, the cheap bino was ok with its included 2$ eyepieces, the linear bino was brighter but i couldn't merge comfortably and as a result didn't have enough eyeball filled to appreciate the optic, focus seemed soft so I switched to a MEADE 2" diagonal and a $200 MEADE 2" handgrenade. At first, the central dark area was occluding 60% of the view, I didn't know why so i switched things around and swapped for the other, lighter and $140 cheaper 2" eyepiece.
WOW!!
Super crisp, eyeball filled with image, colors saturated as if i was looking at the branches with the naked eye. A true extension of myself.

 

 

Overall impression is that this unit of full of endearing quirks and great ideas. Someone at MEADE truly cares.

Weather forecast says cloudy until Tuesday. Y'all are invited to come join me in a sun dance.

 

PS: I'm looking for advise on how to safely do the 24/7 mount burn-in. For example: how do i route  the power cable so it doesn't wrap around.


Edited by daslolo, 13 February 2020 - 03:31 PM.

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#2 carolinaskies

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 09:28 AM

I picked up an LX65 second hand last year as a dual OTA setup.  

Included picture is my first indoor assembly using refractors just for kicks. 
Be aware I simply had my doublestack'd 80 but have knocked it down to the 80ST on one side an a deforked ETX90 on the outboard side.  

20191007_183045_result.jpg


You asked about powering the unit... my thought is to do a bit of disassembly and remove the battery array in the compartment and replace it with a lithium ion pack, then no worry about cord wrap!  

As far as burn it, never have done that.  

FWIW if you wanted to set up the LX65 as an EQ mount you can go down through the menu and set the telescope as an LX90 and have access to the controls to do EQ work.  
 


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#3 daslolo

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 03:24 PM

Awesome advise! I have a 5000 mah 4S battery.

 

It's a refractor Christmas Tree ! Deforked... on purpose or it hit the side and broke the mount?

It'll be visual only but thanks for the heads up. It means they reuse controllers chips. Have you looks at the motherboard? 



#4 carolinaskies

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 07:16 PM

Awesome advise! I have a 5000 mah 4S battery.

 

It's a refractor Christmas Tree ! Deforked... on purpose or it hit the side and broke the mount?

It'll be visual only but thanks for the heads up. It means they reuse controllers chips. Have you looks at the motherboard? 

The inboard side can handle the 80ED, but the extra rings w/80ST with eyepieces/cameras are just a bit outside weight. 

No, haven't opened this one up. 



#5 daslolo

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 01:31 AM

This morning I was surprised to find that the scope was pointing down! Must be a neutrino telescope!

min AOS is set at 10 degrees, shouldn't that prevent tilt down?

 

Here is my lx65 Christmas tree shaped like Maximilian from The Black Hole.

 

maximilian.jpg

 

Very tight clearance

 

2 inch setup.jpg

 



#6 carolinaskies

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 05:58 AM

LOL, Max... 

AOS is not a hard stop like a minimum elevation, it's actually a setting for the scope to determine minimum height for a GOTO essentially setting a horizon below which the catalog for targets is limited not an actual stop for rotation.  

As for clearance at the bottom of the scope you can approach this a couple ways. 

1. Replace the visual back with a combo-visual back-diagonal which is shorter. 
2. Get a shorty adapter for the visual back. 
3.  Use a custom dovetail which extends out beyond the back of the scope so you can slide it a bit more forward.  Doing this you may need to add a minor weight to either the outboard dovetail side or on the main OTA.  


I know you wanted to do a long term 'burn in'.  You can simulate the main OTA weight by putting a dovetail with attached weight in place of the full 8" OTA. You know the weight limitation so you could create a custom weight stack to simulate these max-weights on both sides of the altitude drive.  


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#7 jgraham

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 01:18 PM

The LX65 looks like a repackaged Lightswitch, which is a sibling of the LX200GPS. I have a Lightswitch 8 ACF and love it! I like the idea of having a Lightswitch-type mount that I can use with other scopes. Thanks for sharing this!

 

Yeah, the tripod is lightweight, but I can easily carry the whole thing fully assembled. The only part that I worry about it the spreader, but so far it has worked out fine.

 


Edited by jgraham, 15 February 2020 - 01:23 PM.

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#8 REC

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 03:01 PM

This morning I was surprised to find that the scope was pointing down! Must be a neutrino telescope!

min AOS is set at 10 degrees, shouldn't that prevent tilt down?

 

Here is my lx65 Christmas tree shaped like Maximilian from The Black Hole.

 

attachicon.gifmaximilian.jpg

 

Very tight clearance

 

attachicon.gif2 inch setup.jpg

If that 2" optical tube is from Meade, unscrew the extension tube part to make it overall shorter. I did that to mine and now have more clearance from the base now.



#9 REC

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 03:09 PM

LOL, Max... 

AOS is not a hard stop like a minimum elevation, it's actually a setting for the scope to determine minimum height for a GOTO essentially setting a horizon below which the catalog for targets is limited not an actual stop for rotation.  

As for clearance at the bottom of the scope you can approach this a couple ways. 

1. Replace the visual back with a combo-visual back-diagonal which is shorter. 
2. Get a shorty adapter for the visual back. 
3.  Use a custom dovetail which extends out beyond the back of the scope so you can slide it a bit more forward.  Doing this you may need to add a minor weight to either the outboard dovetail side or on the main OTA.  


I know you wanted to do a long term 'burn in'.  You can simulate the main OTA weight by putting a dovetail with attached weight in place of the full 8" OTA. You know the weight limitation so you could create a custom weight stack to simulate these max-weights on both sides of the altitude drive.  

Agena sells a 10 and 15mm visual back adapter. I use this with my binoviewer to shorten the back focus. Just and FYI, if you use your BV with the 8" sct and a 2" diagonal, you will change the focal length to about f/2600mm and even some aperture. Best to stick with a 1.25" diagonal for BV.



#10 daslolo

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 04:39 PM

Is there a way to set the minimum tilt?

The proper dovetail adapter arrived today so I'll leave the PST+bino on the secondary mount.

 

The 2" back works fine, i even get full clearance when i remove the battery lid lol.gif

 

and yes the tripod is light and wobbles on focus but i can move the entire unit in one piece - they say the best telescope is the one you use the most...

 

@rec can you explain how you arrived to 2600mm in a bino?

i tried the 1.25 diagonal and i no longer get the tunnel effect. Why is that?

Anyway i'm getting such a better image with the 40mm 2" that I'll probably stick to mono on this scope.

i tried to open the mount to see what type of gears are inside, the amount of plastic. Those are M4, i took out 4, the plastic cover stuck so maybe later I'll remove the two at the bottom. 


Edited by daslolo, 15 February 2020 - 04:41 PM.


#11 jgraham

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 05:28 PM

I forgot to mention that I added a Meade zero shift electric focuser to my Lightswitch, that eliminates the shakes when I set the fine focus. Very nice. :)

#12 Bill Barlow

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 10:39 AM

I recently purchased this 8” Meade OTA after a tax refund through Company 7 and got to see first light with it yesterday evening.  The optics in this sample are super sharp and the scope was perfectly collimated at C7.  The focuser also exhibited no image shift which is rare for a Meade SCT.  Star airy discs were perfect and I could easily see the E and F stars in the Trapesium from 100X to 245x.  Seeing was so so as well as the transparency, but the only mostly clear evening/some thin cirrus for about a week here in my red/white light pollution zone in southern KC.  Will take it to our Astro clubs darker site soon.  Very impressed so far.

 

Bill


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#13 daslolo

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 12:53 PM

I forgot to mention that I added a Meade zero shift electric focuser to my Lightswitch, that eliminates the shakes when I set the fine focus. Very nice. smile.gif

I'm considering this due to the wide range of focus with the lenses I'm trying out, some times I'm turning the knob 20 times

 

 

I recently purchased this 8” Meade OTA after a tax refund through Company 7 and got to see first light with it yesterday evening.  The optics in this sample are super sharp and the scope was perfectly collimated at C7.  The focuser also exhibited no image shift which is rare for a Meade SCT.  Star airy discs were perfect and I could easily see the E and F stars in the Trapesium from 100X to 245x.  Seeing was so so as well as the transparency, but the only mostly clear evening/some thin cirrus for about a week here in my red/white light pollution zone in southern KC.  Will take it to our Astro clubs darker site soon.  Very impressed so far.

 

Bill

 

What Eyepieces and back do you use?



#14 Bill Barlow

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 10:04 AM

I have a TV 2” visual back and 2” everbright diagonal.  I primarily use Pentax XW eyepieces with the scope.

 

Bill


Edited by Bill Barlow, 17 February 2020 - 10:04 AM.


#15 daslolo

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 01:42 PM

The mount just started squeaking.

 

https://youtu.be/4XU7nP6P4C8



#16 carolinaskies

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 05:48 PM

Remove the outboard OTA and see if it's still squeaks. Then replace the outboard OTA and remove the 8in and see if it squeaks. Then remove the outboard OTA and see if it squeaks with no otaa attached. 

 

Did you check balance with the lock released? 



#17 daslolo

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 07:37 PM

I redid the OTA balancing as it was slightly off, no more squeaking. Thanks!

 

Now, after alignment procedure, many stars are off, in the case of Polaris, way off. Do you know why?



#18 carolinaskies

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 07:55 PM

Go back in and check the telescope settings to make sure it's still using the 8" SCT as the main scope.  Then retrain the drives.  It is possible the encoder readings when misbalanced may have introduced some positioning errors.  Pretty much this is the first two things to do on the LX65.  



#19 carolinaskies

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 07:57 PM

BTW, if you haven't downloaded a soft copy of the manual you can do so here... https://www.meade.co...l_08092018B.pdf



#20 daslolo

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 01:57 AM

Tonight was the first clear night. Stars are a sharp dot up to the edge. I wanted to see Orion so I installed the f/6.3 reducer but the clouds snuck up on me.

 

Yeah settings are the same, retrain not needed because alignment now works, somehow. Polaris is no longer at the horizon - yay!

 

Do you align to magnetic? This gem in the documentation puzzled me

"Either North direction can be used and the AudioStar will prompt you to which North direction the optical tube is pointing before beginning an alignment."

there is no such prompt.



#21 carolinaskies

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 09:35 AM

 

Do you align to magnetic? This gem in the documentation puzzled me

"Either North direction can be used and the AudioStar will prompt you to which North direction the optical tube is pointing before beginning an alignment."

there is no such prompt.

I believe that option is only if you select Easy align.  I always do a 1 or 2 star so have never come across it. 



#22 daslolo

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 01:48 AM

Today's update:

 

Mount squeaks again. Balanced with no secondary.

Using binos or 2" eyepieces of equal weight the mount wobble when you touch the eyepiece, it takes a second to settle.

Audiostar is very buggy at release A2: easy alignment sometimes will tilt down below the horizon as if the coordinates were mirrored, other times it will not even list Sirius.

Zip code to coordinates could be bonko, I couldn't find a way to enter the coordinates.

Alignment redos are common and what should take 5 minutes often goes into the 20 minutes.

1 and 2 star align is listed alphabetically and includes stars that are below the horizon! @carolinaskies, how do you do it, you have some shortcuts?

The handset GUI is bad, with counter intuitive flows everywhere that don't follow manual flowchart. At night, the display scrolling is unreadable.

 

The one benefit of bad software is that you don't want to play with it. So tonight after finally aligning, I played with eyepieces instead to see how I want to look at the sky.

I ended up on binos fitted with 9mm eyepieces and marvelled at being inside the Orion Nebula.

 

When aligned, the scope is very stable so I can freeze my butt off for hours.



#23 carolinaskies

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 09:35 AM

Today's update:

 

Mount squeaks again. Balanced with no secondary.

Using binos or 2" eyepieces of equal weight the mount wobble when you touch the eyepiece, it takes a second to settle.

Audiostar is very buggy at release A2: easy alignment sometimes will tilt down below the horizon as if the coordinates were mirrored, other times it will not even list Sirius.

Zip code to coordinates could be bonko, I couldn't find a way to enter the coordinates.

Alignment redos are common and what should take 5 minutes often goes into the 20 minutes.

1 and 2 star align is listed alphabetically and includes stars that are below the horizon! @carolinaskies, how do you do it, you have some shortcuts?

The handset GUI is bad, with counter intuitive flows everywhere that don't follow manual flowchart. At night, the display scrolling is unreadable.

 

The one benefit of bad software is that you don't want to play with it. So tonight after finally aligning, I played with eyepieces instead to see how I want to look at the sky.

I ended up on binos fitted with 9mm eyepieces and marvelled at being inside the Orion Nebula.

 

When aligned, the scope is very stable so I can freeze my butt off for hours.

Hmm, wonder if your particular mount is buggy as I don't experience the same problems or inconsistencies.  

The squeaking issue may be a tolerance/clearance issue or to do with grease not being spread correctly, I do not know since it is coming and going.  I haven't stripped mine down and haven't seen the internals of one as of yet to speculate further other than to say you might want to play around with backlash setting through the hand control to see if that has any effect. 

If you cannot read the hand control at night there is a setting in increase the illumination of the internal light in the control.  

You might consider running and installing the latest firmware patches to see if that clears up some of the issues you mentioned.   Unlike most consumer products, telescope mounts run off of reprogrammable firmware and occassionally these do go buggy.  My 2004 LX200 GPS sat around for years in a guys shed and the firmware somehow went buggy and all it took was a reflash and it was up and running again.  Yes it does seem strange to have errors on new equipment, but it's not uncommon.  Who knows, maybe cosmic radiation is moving an electron or two causing corruption... lol. 

 



#24 daslolo

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 02:12 AM

Hmm, wonder if your particular mount is buggy as I don't experience the same problems or inconsistencies.  

The squeaking issue may be a tolerance/clearance issue or to do with grease not being spread correctly, I do not know since it is coming and going.  I haven't stripped mine down and haven't seen the internals of one as of yet to speculate further other than to say you might want to play around with backlash setting through the hand control to see if that has any effect. 

If you cannot read the hand control at night there is a setting in increase the illumination of the internal light in the control.  

You might consider running and installing the latest firmware patches to see if that clears up some of the issues you mentioned.   Unlike most consumer products, telescope mounts run off of reprogrammable firmware and occassionally these do go buggy.  My 2004 LX200 GPS sat around for years in a guys shed and the firmware somehow went buggy and all it took was a reflash and it was up and running again.  Yes it does seem strange to have errors on new equipment, but it's not uncommon.  Who knows, maybe cosmic radiation is moving an electron or two causing corruption... lol. 

 

It could be buggy, and now it has a dent from the 2" diagonal thanks to audiostar ignoring my 80* max on an alignment goto to a Capella that was way off. It seems to sometimes ignore the horizon home alignment...

I receive the programming cable tomorrow and will flash the new firmware. Fingers crossed.

Does the Audiostar have a mode where it keeps real time? Some Celestrons mounts do and they're switched off by default.

Tomorrow I'll also train the drives, you're right, some tech need a flush.

 

Tonight I noticed that the mount isn't upstraight, took the bubble level out from the garage and yep it's quite off, even with the plate's bubble smack in the middle

photo_2020-02-21_23-51-10.jpg

then I saw this weird gap in the tripod plate

photo_2020-02-21_23-49-31.jpg

and this isn't like that on the other holes

photo_2020-02-21_23-49-31 (2).jpg

I wonder if I fixed the mount wrong...

 


Edited by daslolo, 22 February 2020 - 02:57 AM.


#25 carolinaskies

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 02:48 PM

Always use an external level, the built in ones are notoriously susceptible to issues. 



 




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