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MEADE 10 inch SCT plus 4 inch SCT guide scope from 1983

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#1 PeterLaubscher

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Posted 25 May 2020 - 03:39 PM

It is seriously cloudy tonight in Simon’s Town, near the southern tip of Africa, as the first powerful cold front of winter makes landfall. We’re thrilled to see the rain, having had a prolonged drought in the Cape.

This gives me an opportunity to ask for advice on a scope that I received this past week.

I am not sure where this post belongs. It could easily go to the astrophotography forum, but as it concerns a ‘vintage’ telescope system, I have decided to post it here. Apologies in advance to the forum administrators if this is the wrong choice.

To the scope: It’s a Meade 10” SCT, Model 2120 dating back to 1983 [serial number 100870], coupled with a Meade 4” SCT photo guide telescope plus all the other goodies needed for astrophotography – an off-axis guider, illuminated reticile, tele-compressor etc. The 4” SCT guide scope is in itself a superb instrument.

The attached photo shows what the setup looks like.

 

The previous and original owner took wonderful care of the scope and the scope and all the accessories are in superb condition. He used it for astrophotography with a film camera, but as far as I can tell, did not use it with a DSLR.  The motor drives both appear to be in excellent condition, but off course, it has no encoders and no facility to couple the drive control [which uses a joystick mechanism for control] with a laptop. In the era of film photography, one had to constantly look though either the off-axis guider or the 4” guide scope, which could observe off-axis at up to 4 degrees, to guide the main 10“ scope via the joystick. No subs in those days, so you might have had to hand-guide it in this way for a continuous exposure time of an hour or more, using ASA 400 film.

I’ve only had it outside on one night and was mightily impressed with the views. I do most of my observing with an Orion 12” Dobsonion, usually with 2” eyepieces – an Erfle 33mm, a 40mm and a 25mm Swan. The skies are great at the moment, because of the virus induced lockdown – Eta Carina and the likes are simply splendid and of course greatly enhanced with the use of filters. The SCT came with the Meade-supplied 1.25 original eyepieces, manufactured in Japan, which are of an outstanding quality. I tried them on my Dobsonion and felt that they offered even more detail of Eta Carina than my two-inch eyepieces, but I’ll need to review that again, as with each passing night, the skies become clearer – after this storm, the sky will be especially beautiful. I have found a way to connect my wo-inch eyepieces to the SCT by using part of my two-inch Barlow mechanism – if you have enough stuff in your toolbox, you can make things work…

Anyway, I’d like to have a go at astrophotography with this setup. I have Canon EOS DSLR, known as the Canon 650 D in South Africa and known as the Kiss X6i in Japan or the Rebel T4i in America. It dates from 2012. I have done some basic unguided work with it, both with its standard EFS 18-55 kit lens as well as though my Dobsonion, both as a standalone camera and using my laptop to connect to it via the Canon EOS utility. The camera is unmodified. 

 

The results have been mixed. Using the Dob, which is a pure rocker box system – no guidance etc, the results were poor to terrible to shocking, but could probably be improved with extreme persistence and patience. A low-profile focuser would make life a lot easier too. With the kit lens, the results were so-so and once I master the stacking software etc, if think it would produce acceptable images. I’ll start by using the DSLR in piggyback mode, as the attachment for the 4” guide scope provides the perfect attachment for this purpose. I’ll then move on to imaging via the 10”, although it occurs to me that you could capture images simultaneously with the 4” with an additional DSLR, either of the same object and stack them [would that work?!] or of some other object, given that the 4” guide scope is capable of pointing at an object some distance away from the main field of view. Given the lack of computer guiding, I’d probably have to settle for fairly short exposure times, but from what I have read, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, if anyone else out there has experience of using this system, I’d be grateful for your comments and advice etc, as well as recommendations for possible upgrades.

Thanks

Peter

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#2 clusterbuster

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Posted 25 May 2020 - 04:22 PM

I have a Meade 12" LX200, I love that Scope, I also had a Meade 10" LX200.

 My friend made me a deal that I could not refuse on my Meade 10" LX200.

So I just traded it off last week.

 Those BIG MEADE CATS have AWESOME OPTICS !!!

ENJOY !!!

 Mark


Edited by clusterbuster, 26 May 2020 - 03:55 AM.

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#3 tim53

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Posted 25 May 2020 - 04:57 PM

It is seriously cloudy tonight in Simon’s Town, near the southern tip of Africa, as the first powerful cold front of winter makes landfall. We’re thrilled to see the rain, having had a prolonged drought in the Cape.

This gives me an opportunity to ask for advice on a scope that I received this past week.

I am not sure where this post belongs. It could easily go to the astrophotography forum, but as it concerns a ‘vintage’ telescope system, I have decided to post it here. Apologies in advance to the forum administrators if this is the wrong choice.

To the scope: It’s a Meade 10” SCT, Model 2120 dating back to 1983 [serial number 100870], coupled with a Meade 4” SCT photo guide telescope plus all the other goodies needed for astrophotography – an off-axis guider, illuminated reticile, tele-compressor etc. The 4” SCT guide scope is in itself a superb instrument.

The attached photo shows what the setup looks like.

 

The previous and original owner took wonderful care of the scope and the scope and all the accessories are in superb condition. He used it for astrophotography with a film camera, but as far as I can tell, did not use it with a DSLR.  The motor drives both appear to be in excellent condition, but off course, it has no encoders and no facility to couple the drive control [which uses a joystick mechanism for control] with a laptop. In the era of film photography, one had to constantly look though either the off-axis guider or the 4” guide scope, which could observe off-axis at up to 4 degrees, to guide the main 10“ scope via the joystick. No subs in those days, so you might have had to hand-guide it in this way for a continuous exposure time of an hour or more, using ASA 400 film.

I’ve only had it outside on one night and was mightily impressed with the views. I do most of my observing with an Orion 12” Dobsonion, usually with 2” eyepieces – an Erfle 33mm, a 40mm and a 25mm Swan. The skies are great at the moment, because of the virus induced lockdown – Eta Carina and the likes are simply splendid and of course greatly enhanced with the use of filters. The SCT came with the Meade-supplied 1.25 original eyepieces, manufactured in Japan, which are of an outstanding quality. I tried them on my Dobsonion and felt that they offered even more detail of Eta Carina than my two-inch eyepieces, but I’ll need to review that again, as with each passing night, the skies become clearer – after this storm, the sky will be especially beautiful. I have found a way to connect my wo-inch eyepieces to the SCT by using part of my two-inch Barlow mechanism – if you have enough stuff in your toolbox, you can make things work…

Anyway, I’d like to have a go at astrophotography with this setup. I have Canon EOS DSLR, known as the Canon 650 D in South Africa and known as the Kiss X6i in Japan or the Rebel T4i in America. It dates from 2012. I have done some basic unguided work with it, both with its standard EFS 18-55 kit lens as well as though my Dobsonion, both as a standalone camera and using my laptop to connect to it via the Canon EOS utility. The camera is unmodified. 

 

The results have been mixed. Using the Dob, which is a pure rocker box system – no guidance etc, the results were poor to terrible to shocking, but could probably be improved with extreme persistence and patience. A low-profile focuser would make life a lot easier too. With the kit lens, the results were so-so and once I master the stacking software etc, if think it would produce acceptable images. I’ll start by using the DSLR in piggyback mode, as the attachment for the 4” guide scope provides the perfect attachment for this purpose. I’ll then move on to imaging via the 10”, although it occurs to me that you could capture images simultaneously with the 4” with an additional DSLR, either of the same object and stack them [would that work?!] or of some other object, given that the 4” guide scope is capable of pointing at an object some distance away from the main field of view. Given the lack of computer guiding, I’d probably have to settle for fairly short exposure times, but from what I have read, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, if anyone else out there has experience of using this system, I’d be grateful for your comments and advice etc, as well as recommendations for possible upgrades.

Thanks

Peter

I worked at Meade from 1978-1979, then again from 1981 -1982.  I must admit that I've never seen one of the 4" guide scopes with the mounting hardware in real life.  I didn't think it would ever work, frankly, unless you counterbalanced the weight of the 4" and mounting bracket with weights on the underside of the 10" OTA.  Even then, you're imaging and guiding with two telescopes that focus by moving the primary mirror - so mirror flop or shift in either scope could ruin an exposure.  The good news is that with digital imaging, you can toss the frames with image shift, and keep the rest.  The other good news is that, even though this system predates guiding ports, you could put a small camera, like a guider camera from one of the major manufacturers, in one scope or the off axis guider, and guide on a computer screen "manually", without getting uncomfortable looking through an eyepiece for extended periods.  Many scopes, also, have drives that are accurate enough to allow unguided imaging of a minute or so.  Unfortunately, in my experience the Meade drives have considerable periodic error. 

 

-Tim.


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#4 CHASLX200

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Posted 25 May 2020 - 07:14 PM

I have a Meade 12" LX200, I love that Scope, I also had a Meade 10" LX2200.

 My friend made me a deal that I could not refuse on my Meade 10" LX200.

So I just traded it off last week.

 Those BIG MEADE CATS have AWESOME OPTICS !!!

ENJOY !!!

 Mark

I had two 10" Meade LX200's and they were very good and one super good 12" LX200 and one soft 12" LX200.  Meade had the SCT optics down pat in the later 90's.  I have had way more good Meade vs Celestron SCT's.


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#5 CHASLX200

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Posted 25 May 2020 - 07:15 PM

I worked at Meade from 1978-1979, then again from 1981 -1982.  I must admit that I've never seen one of the 4" guide scopes with the mounting hardware in real life.  I didn't think it would ever work, frankly, unless you counterbalanced the weight of the 4" and mounting bracket with weights on the underside of the 10" OTA.  Even then, you're imaging and guiding with two telescopes that focus by moving the primary mirror - so mirror flop or shift in either scope could ruin an exposure.  The good news is that with digital imaging, you can toss the frames with image shift, and keep the rest.  The other good news is that, even though this system predates guiding ports, you could put a small camera, like a guider camera from one of the major manufacturers, in one scope or the off axis guider, and guide on a computer screen "manually", without getting uncomfortable looking through an eyepiece for extended periods.  Many scopes, also, have drives that are accurate enough to allow unguided imaging of a minute or so.  Unfortunately, in my experience the Meade drives have considerable periodic error. 

 

-Tim.

That tangent arm is super rare that Meade built. I did see one once and wanted to buy it, but the seller wanted 700 for it so i passed.



#6 PeterLaubscher

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 03:41 AM

I have a Meade 12" LX200, I love that Scope, I also had a Meade 10" LX2200.

 My friend made me a deal that I could not refuse on my Meade 10" LX200.

So I just traded it off last week.

 Those BIG MEADE CATS have AWESOME OPTICS !!!

ENJOY !!!

 Mark

Thanks, Mark - much apprciated.

 

Peter



#7 PeterLaubscher

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 03:44 AM

I worked at Meade from 1978-1979, then again from 1981 -1982.  I must admit that I've never seen one of the 4" guide scopes with the mounting hardware in real life.  I didn't think it would ever work, frankly, unless you counterbalanced the weight of the 4" and mounting bracket with weights on the underside of the 10" OTA.  Even then, you're imaging and guiding with two telescopes that focus by moving the primary mirror - so mirror flop or shift in either scope could ruin an exposure.  The good news is that with digital imaging, you can toss the frames with image shift, and keep the rest.  The other good news is that, even though this system predates guiding ports, you could put a small camera, like a guider camera from one of the major manufacturers, in one scope or the off axis guider, and guide on a computer screen "manually", without getting uncomfortable looking through an eyepiece for extended periods.  Many scopes, also, have drives that are accurate enough to allow unguided imaging of a minute or so.  Unfortunately, in my experience the Meade drives have considerable periodic error. 

 

-Tim.

Many thanks, Tim. that is very interesting information. Yes, this scope is equipped with the rails for attaching the counter balance weights, plus a wide selction of weights. I think that the idea of guiding though a computer screen is an excellent suggestion. 

 

Peter



#8 PeterLaubscher

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 03:46 AM

That tangent arm is super rare that Meade built. I did see one once and wanted to buy it, but the seller wanted 700 for it so i passed.

The tangent arm is a solid piece of engineering - still works beautifully after all these years. 

 

Peter 



#9 delorehal

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 04:33 AM

100_9723 - Copie.JPG Here is mine


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#10 delorehal

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 04:40 AM

I also have the Meade 4" SC camera with the bracket for the 10" :

596497-1.jpg


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#11 PeterLaubscher

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 10:59 AM

attachicon.gif100_9723 - Copie.JPGHere is mine

Wow! thank you for that photo - may I ask you to tell me a little about your guiding system system. You have obviously upgraded it and when my supertanker comes in, I'd like to do something similar. Maybe you mounted it on a completely new pier? 

 

Many thanks

 

Peter 


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#12 PeterLaubscher

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 11:00 AM

I also have the Meade 4" SC camera with the bracket for the 10" :

attachicon.gif596497-1.jpg

Ah, saw this in the old catalogue that came with my scope.  Looks like one fed the film directly into it. 



#13 jgraham

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 12:00 PM

Wow, that is so cool! For many years I used a Meade DSX-90 as a guide scope and it worked great! I also have 5.5" and 8" Celestron Schmidt cameras converted to digital. I saw a Meade Schmidt camera a few years ago but missed bidding on it.

Neat stuff!
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#14 CHASLX200

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Posted 26 May 2020 - 06:03 PM

The tangent arm is a solid piece of engineering - still works beautifully after all these years. 

 

Peter 

I made a offer of $500 for it back around 1993. I would say it is worth 1k today as that is much more rare than the Celestron tangent arm that i had on my C14. 



#15 delorehal

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Posted 27 May 2020 - 12:50 AM

Wow! thank you for that photo - may I ask you to tell me a little about your guiding system system. You have obviously upgraded it and when my supertanker comes in, I'd like to do something similar. Maybe you mounted it on a completely new pier? 

 

Many thanks

 

Peter 

Peter,
The mount and pier are original, it is a Meade MTS SC10 a very rare scope because buyers preferred the LX mounts

I bought it from US and imported it to Europe, shipping cost and duties were astronomical.

It is upgraded with a Meade CAT (first computerized scope (no goto) from Meade) and Meade digital system.

 

I once saw a movie (forget the name) where a beautiful Celestron with a pier was shown on the background of a flat, I wanted since own a such telescope.


Edited by delorehal, 27 May 2020 - 12:59 AM.


#16 delorehal

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Posted 27 May 2020 - 12:57 AM

Here is the "LX3 like" hand controller (upgrade too) :

 

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#17 PeterLaubscher

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Posted 27 May 2020 - 01:45 AM

Here is the "LX3 like" hand controller (upgrade too) :

Many thanks for the explanation - fascinating equipment and looks great. Yes, the cost of importing 'my' equipment into South Africa in 1983/4 would have been horrendous. Fortunately, in those days, the South Africa currency [the Rand] traded at near to parity with the US Dollar - sadly, those days are long gone - somewhere around seventeen South African Rand to the US Dollar at the moment!

 

Peter 


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#18 luxo II

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Posted 01 August 2020 - 11:37 PM

Love the scope ... i saw one of these here only once about 1985, back in the days when Meade really tried to build something nice. But being in the film era at the time I was always puzzled by this scope - a 4”SCT (and I had one at the time) seemed hopelessly inadequate to manually guide a 10” with a camera on the back. Conversely to use a 10” to guide a 4” SC seemed a to more than a little like overkill.

At the time I was using the little Meade 4” SCT to guide a 6” f/5 for photography, for that it worked well enough.

Peter It sounds like you could do very nicely rounding up old Astro gear you can find locally and flogging it for nice $US...

Edited by luxo II, 01 August 2020 - 11:44 PM.



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