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January Meade 826 Haul

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#1 AdAstraPerAspera

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 02:08 AM

It was requested of me that I make a dedicated thread to document the purchase I made in late January from Govdeals.com. 

 

The auction was pretty poorly labeled as something like "Three 6-inch and one four inch telescopes, Meade". They lot was being sold by Northwest Missouri State University which is located near the Iowa/Missouri state line, about 90 minutes from me in Kansas City. Because of the proximity, my curiosity was piqued. I looked through the photos that were posted and noticed that the smallest OTA was a Criterion RV-6. I knew the others were at least 8"...

 

Anyway, the bidding wrapped up on Monday, 27 Jan. I was the winner with a bid that would have been a high market price for the RV-6 OTA alone. I drove to Maryville twice and retrieved everything. It all survived. The following is what I was given:

 

(3) Early 1980's Meade 826 OTA's. Glossy white exteriors with Meade 680 Focusers and 1.25" threaded eyepiece inserts. Also attached are finder mounts and Meade #520 8X50 viewfinders.

(5) Meade 853 Mounts equipped with RA motors on 110V plugs

(8) counter weights of various weights 

(2) sets of piers/pier legs/casters

(1) Early, tapered, cast-iron Meade Starfinder Mount without straps - absolutely useless to me...

(3) sets of 8" OTA rings

(1) Kellner Volcano-top eyepiece (RG?)

(1) Criterion RV-6 OTA

 

Maybe 4 weeks ago, I purchased another pier and leg set from Sean Cunneen (Thanks, Sean!).

 

I tracked down a copy of the original Manual from Mountaineer370 (Thanks!). I also googled my way into some catalog and advertisement copy. I stitched them together as one document and they may be accessed and downloaded here: https://drive.google...ew?usp=drivesdk

 

The mirrors are in remarkably good condition. I'm not even a year into this hobby but from what I understand, these optics often need to be recoated after perhaps 10 years. The mirrors I have appear to have been stored indoors and rarely used. They are functionally in perfect condition. Moreover, I have read that in the early days of the Meade company, their aim was the university and research market. These mirrors are better than 1/10th wave (still learning what that means and I don't own a Ronchi screen, but I know it's good). The difference between 1/5th wave and 1/10th wave is noticeable to the human eye but from reading your discussions over the past 20 years, the difference between 1/10th wave and anything better is essentially moot.

 

I have also gathered that because of temperature equilibrium issues and warping, the 8" and 10" mirrors of this vintage are considered superior to anything larger. I read that these mirrors were produced in the same lot as the late 70's/early 80's Meade RG mirrors. These are simply some of the best mirrors that the Meade company (or any larger American manufacturer) ever produced. They are still clean and the only thing I had to do to "clean" them was run a distilled water and isopropyl mixture over them and blow them off with a cool hair dryer.

 

I am missing a few pieces to my kits. I haven't been able to track down the threaded 2" adapter for the #680 focusers. I was given an ES 2" ep by my mentor in the Astronomy Society of KC and I'd really like to use it properly at public nights this summer. I'm also missing dust caps for everything. I improvised for that but bubble wrap, rubber bands, and painters blue tape look rubbish. I'm also missing 1 pair of 2" wide knurled locking nuts for the tube ring bolts. The OTAs also have a few scuffs but no cracks or fractures of any kind. They're nothing that would prevent touch-up paint from making them look new.

 

I'm attaching photos of the mirrors, OTAs, and focusers to this message. There are more photos in the attached album. I will take photos of the mounts and piers at some point. The photos I'm sharing here are all watermarked to distinguish the three instruments from one another and shrunken down to <500kb.

 

I need to sell most of this stuff. I'll try keep one of the 826's. I'm definitely a purist so I am resisting the urge to make quick bucks and part everything out. Ideally, I can find two someones within 200 miles who want 8" Newtonians better and likely less expensive than anything they can get on Amazon. 

 

A question for you all: the three mirrors are 8" f/6... however, one is marked with a focal length of 46.4", another 47.9", and the third at a perfect 48". Their QC had a bit of margin. Is the 48"-marked one the one to keep?

 

Anyway, that's my report. Thanks again for the lead, CN Classics! You teach me invaluable information every day. Enjoy the photos, share your thoughts, and ask questions.

 
826A1
Album: Meade 826 photos
45 images
0 comments

 

 

Meade 826 "#A"

826A4
826A2
826A10

 

Meade 826 "#B"

826B6
826B8
826B7

 

Meade 826 "#C"

826C2
826C4
826C6

 

The missing #680 focuser 2" ring

Missing 2" threaded insert

Edited by AdAstraPerAspera, 06 March 2020 - 01:43 PM.

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#2 ccwemyss

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 08:22 AM

Back in the day, the dust caps for the OTA were just shower caps. You can get plain ones at any department store. I use the clear ones that are free in hotels too.

Chip W.
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#3 G-Tower

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 08:29 AM

I believe its an 856 not an 826c. Never seen a bad Meade 8" f/6


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#4 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 09:02 AM

Great haul   good thread   

 Certainly  worth the drive and your time and efforts to get them up to speed and functionality

  good luck with the partial restoration    and keep us posted as to your progress

   As the warmer weather comes it should be great for you to be outside for hours with the scopes and the

planets


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#5 tim53

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 09:23 AM

The glossy tubes indicate fairly early, but the Meade labels were put on after my time there (Summer 1978-Fall 1979, then Fall 1981-Spring 1982). If they are all labeled like that, the optics were probably made in-house.  While I was there, Coulter supplied the optics for the Meade Newts.  The different focal lengths are just where they wound up after fine grinding.  They were labeled so the person assembling them would know where to drill the holes in the tube for mounting the hardware.  If you have means to test them side-by-side, do that and then pick the best of the lot to keep.

 

I don't think Meade ever claimed more than "diffraction limited", which would make them 1/4 wave or better. Most of the 826's I've used were decent, with the exception of one I was loaned in 1979 to take photos with - my Optical Craftsmen 8" Discoverer (also f/6) was much better, optically.

 

The starfinder mounts were a significant improvement in stability over the early mounts that I worked on.  The castings were all aluminum.

 

I loved the 680 focusers, and still grab them when I find them for sale.  Used, they seldom include both eyepiece adapters, but I think they can be found (someone here will know where).


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#6 tim53

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 09:38 AM

And now that I think about it, the end rings on the early Newts were all brushed aluminum.  The Starfinders may have been plastic, but I haven't seen one up close in a long time, so check with someone here who has one.  It's also possible that the Starfinders had glossy tubes.  But again, I haven't been close to one in a long time, so check with others here who have them.


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#7 AdAstraPerAspera

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 11:53 AM

I believe its an 856 not an 826c. Never seen a bad Meade 8" f/6

 

Based on the media I have, the 856 had a 2" guide scope, dual axis drive corrector, and a shelf. The 826's were slightly simpler than that. Catalog info is in the link I shared. 



#8 Bomber Bob

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 12:49 PM

My 826 OTA (which used to belong to CHAS) is worth 2x - 3x what I paid for it -- just for the views.

 

Congratulations on The Haul for 2020 -- gotta be a record-setter!

 

A coworker bought his first Mustang through GOVDEALS -- a loaded GT Convertible -- had the "This vehicle cleaned of all narcotics" labels on the the windows...


Edited by Bomber Bob, 06 March 2020 - 12:52 PM.

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#9 G-Tower

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 12:57 PM

The 826 

 

Based on the media I have, the 856 had a 2" guide scope, dual axis drive corrector, and a shelf. The 826's were slightly simpler than that. Catalog info is in the link I shared. 

Never seen an 826 with a 2" focuser or an 8x50 finder from factory...


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#10 sdedalus83

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 01:12 PM

The 826 

 

Never seen an 826 with a 2" focuser or an 8x50 finder from factory...

Looks like a special order from a school.

 

https://www.cloudyni...onian-focusers/

 

There's a complete 2" focuser, complete with Meade sticker.


Edited by sdedalus83, 06 March 2020 - 02:03 PM.

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#11 G-Tower

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 06:57 PM

Looks like a special order from a school.

 

https://www.cloudyni...onian-focusers/

 

There's a complete 2" focuser, complete with Meade sticker.

That's just a guess...


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#12 CHASLX200

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 07:58 PM

And now that I think about it, the end rings on the early Newts were all brushed aluminum.  The Starfinders may have been plastic, but I haven't seen one up close in a long time, so check with someone here who has one.  It's also possible that the Starfinders had glossy tubes.  But again, I haven't been close to one in a long time, so check with others here who have them.

The Fiberlite tubes were much less in weight vs the Parks tubes.  I liked the Meade tubes used back then.


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#13 AdAstraPerAspera

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Posted 07 March 2020 - 12:03 AM

The glossy tubes indicate fairly early, but the Meade labels were put on after my time there (Summer 1978-Fall 1979, then Fall 1981-Spring 1982). If they are all labeled like that, the optics were probably made in-house.  While I was there, Coulter supplied the optics for the Meade Newts.  The different focal lengths are just where they wound up after fine grinding.  They were labeled so the person assembling them would know where to drill the holes in the tube for mounting the hardware.  If you have means to test them side-by-side, do that and then pick the best of the lot to keep.

 

I don't think Meade ever claimed more than "diffraction limited", which would make them 1/4 wave or better. Most of the 826's I've used were decent, with the exception of one I was loaned in 1979 to take photos with - my Optical Craftsmen 8" Discoverer (also f/6) was much better, optically.

 

The starfinder mounts were a significant improvement in stability over the early mounts that I worked on.  The castings were all aluminum.

 

I loved the 680 focusers, and still grab them when I find them for sale.  Used, they seldom include both eyepiece adapters, but I think they can be found (someone here will know where).

 

Yeah the gloss is how I figured they were relatively early. One of the mirrors actually has Meade's company brand stamped on the back. The other two don't but they have focal length and ratio. Otherwise everything is nearly identical and they all came from the same institution. The ads they used say they are 1/10th. 

Screenshot 20200306 153800 Chrome compress50

 

---

The 826 

 

Never seen an 826 with a 2" focuser or an 8x50 finder from factory...

Yes, they are the upgraded Meade #520 viewfinders. Catalog from the era mentions them being optional.

 

---

Here are photos of the mounts and counter weights. I shared them once before but I had to delete my photos as they were too large. 

 

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#14 G-Tower

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Posted 07 March 2020 - 08:20 AM

The older mount "B" is better than the newer Starfinder mount. The "B" is the only one Meade offer with a real roller bearing, the later one is all cheap plastic bushings. 

As far as the finder, its obvious its an upgrade. I've had at least 15 of these scopes....


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#15 tim53

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Posted 07 March 2020 - 08:23 PM

If you're going to keep only one OTA, I'd still compare them via testing.  At least a good star test, if you don't have an optical flat for double pass autocollimation.

 

Meade may have claimed 1/10th wave, but I wouldn't rely on the ad claim (written when they were still getting mirrors from Coulter).  We never tested the optics when I was there.  They were testing when they started making mirrors in-house (yours), but if they didn't provide proof of 1/10th wave accuracy, you shouldn't just believe that.

 

-Tim.


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#16 G-Tower

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Posted 07 March 2020 - 11:12 PM

If you're going to keep only one OTA, I'd still compare them via testing.  At least a good star test, if you don't have an optical flat for double pass autocollimation.

 

Meade may have claimed 1/10th wave, but I wouldn't rely on the ad claim (written when they were still getting mirrors from Coulter).  We never tested the optics when I was there.  They were testing when they started making mirrors in-house (yours), but if they didn't provide proof of 1/10th wave accuracy, you shouldn't just believe that.

 

-Tim.

How would you interpret the double-pass into wave-front? 


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#17 tim53

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Posted 07 March 2020 - 11:18 PM

DPAC is not quantitative.  If you have straight ronchi bands in DPAC, you're 1/10th wave or better.


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#18 G-Tower

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Posted 07 March 2020 - 11:27 PM

If its not quantitative how are you going to verify the wavefront? You need an interferometer for that. I've seen straight DPAC lines that gave less than stellar views at the eyepiece. I don't think it wise to assume straight lines is a 1/10 wave. Probably a good optic but a crap-shoot for a wave-front number


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#19 tim53

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Posted 07 March 2020 - 11:37 PM

As I said before, when Meade was advertising 1/10th wave, they weren't even testing the mirrors they got from Coulter, so they were just repeating BS that telescope manufacturers had been spreading since the 50s.  

 

Sometime after Meade started making their own optics, the advertising claim changed to "diffraction limited", because Diebel himself admitted as much.  But since diffraction limited is about 1/4 wave, and not hard to achieve, they could reasonably make the claim and risk fewer returned telescopes - not that many buyers at the time had the knowledge and means to test their own scopes.

 

When making mirrors using DPAC to test them, you don't need to quantify the wave number, since it is known that 1/10th wave optics produce straight lines, and anything less doesn't.

 

If you have a mirror that shows straight ronchi bands in DPAC but performs poorly in an assembled telescope, then the problem is elsewhere in the system (or you've missed something like astigmatism).


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#20 G-Tower

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Posted 08 March 2020 - 12:40 AM

There are other issues that affect the wave-front that straight DPAC line don't show. A small amount of other issues won't be detectable with the DPAC but when you combine these unnoticeable issues the will reduce the wave-front making DAPC an unreliable test for wave-front.No manufacturer today would dare use a DPAC test to give the consumer any wave-front numbers. And no, its at lest 1/10 wave with straight lines is good enough. That's assumption and you know what they say about the that shocked.gif 

 

Meade, Coulter, Criterion, Edmund and others were basically lying to the consumer. Rarely have I seen a mirror from any of these manufactures test to their claims. Some, like Starliner even claimed 1/20th wavelol.gif 


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#21 AdAstraPerAspera

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Posted 08 March 2020 - 01:37 AM

Well as soon as I meet someone within a half-days drive who has the knowledge to help me test the mirrors, I'll let you know how these check out! 😊

#22 CHASLX200

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Posted 08 March 2020 - 06:29 AM

I just use my eyes for testing. Most of these comps made up figures since the 1950's on how great their mirrors were. I have had so many old school slower Newts and all of them gave great views. Every fast Newt i had back in the day was pretty sad.  My last 826 had super good optics, but the mount was just flat out bad.


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#23 G-Tower

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Posted 08 March 2020 - 09:37 AM

Well as soon as I meet someone within a half-days drive who has the knowledge to help me test the mirrors, I'll let you know how these check out!

Driving half a day for a DPAC test is waste of time and contributes to greenhouse pollution. Stay home and enjoy your scope.smile.gif 

 

I just use my eyes for testing. Most of these comps made up figures since the 1950's on how great their mirrors were. I have had so many old school slower Newts and all of them gave great views. Every fast Newt i had back in the day was pretty sad.  My last 826 had super good optics, but the mount was just flat out bad.

I would have to agree with Chas to certain extent. Anyone here who's been in the hobby for years and has viewed through many scopes, can easily tell if a scope has good optics simply by looking through it. To assume you don't know if you have good optics cause you haven't tested them is just misinformed.


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#24 tim53

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Posted 08 March 2020 - 11:01 AM

Well as soon as I meet someone within a half-days drive who has the knowledge to help me test the mirrors, I'll let you know how these check out!

dpac is surprisingly simple and inexpensive to do, and is the best and easiest way to quickly determine the quality of your optics.


Edited by tim53, 08 March 2020 - 11:05 AM.


#25 AdAstraPerAspera

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 03:34 PM

20200419 151320 compress74

 

 

All cleaned up and ready to go! 


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