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Meade Research Grade

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#1 Bonco2

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Posted 02 September 2021 - 04:57 PM

I remember seeing the Meade Newtonians advertised as research grade. I thought it a an advertising scheme.  But recently I've purchased some RG eyepieces and I find them to be truly better than average 1.25's. They seem to be known to be very good. I wonder if the RG Newts were noticeably better optically than other Meade models and Cave products. In other words were they truly research grade? In the microscope world  I've read RG means worthy of high school or college study and/or research.  

Bill


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#2 CHASLX200

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Posted 02 September 2021 - 06:18 PM

Every Meade Newt i have owned has been very good to great. I have only owned the older 80's made scopes and one 90's made 8" F/6 Starfinder.

 

My 10" RG seems to have a good mirror also, but only used it one time and the seeing was bad.


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#3 apfever

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Posted 02 September 2021 - 06:55 PM

I think Mead founder John Diebel hit on the idea of putting better parts in his popular items. Word is that better mirrors were singled out for the Ultima series. All my Ultimas were as good as a CAT could be hoped for.  I always found the ETX series to be better than the Orion Apex and Deibel is quoted as saying "We have a winner" for the first production ETX. I've had several of the 826, 628, Starfinder GEM, Starfinder dob, and DS series scopes, all newtonians from 8" to 16".  None of them bad, all at least 'standard' by manufacturers in general but usually much better. My 16" truss dob has a Meade mirror and the best view of Saturn I've ever had. The 16" is distinctly upper end star images.  All of these spread out over a time frame Meade was known to have good Quality Control management. A lot of this glass came from when Meade made their own optics in house. My RG mount did not come with an OTA so I can't vouch for the official RG Newtonians in particular. I don't know of any beliefs that Meade put better glass in the RG scopes, but it wouldn't surprise me and quality in general would be above average. I'm sure there are dogs that escaped the pen.


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#4 CHASLX200

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Posted 02 September 2021 - 07:03 PM

Meade was on top of it's game in the 70's and 80's. They had it down pat on the LX200 optics in the mid and later 90's. Only bad Meade scope i had was that 7" ED that could never stay collimated after being shipped back to me in 1999 even before Meade knew how to deal with it.


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#5 Don W

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Posted 02 September 2021 - 08:22 PM

When they were introduced, the Meade RG eyepieces were some of the best available. The Orthoscopics were especially popular. Only about a 45 degree FOV, but they were tack sharp. The Wide Angles were pretty much an Erfle design giving wider FOVs for richer fields.

 

They are still valued by collectors and bring premium prices.


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#6 ShaulaB

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Posted 02 September 2021 - 08:28 PM

Back in the 80's, I got a RG 20mm eyepiece and loved it. Contrast and sharpness are excellent. It is still in rotation in my ep rotation.

An observing buddy back in the day had a RG 16 inch Newtonian that was very nice. The mount made it a bear to move around.
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#7 RichA

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Posted 02 September 2021 - 09:44 PM

I remember seeing the Meade Newtonians advertised as research grade. I thought it a an advertising scheme.  But recently I've purchased some RG eyepieces and I find them to be truly better than average 1.25's. They seem to be known to be very good. I wonder if the RG Newts were noticeably better optically than other Meade models and Cave products. In other words were they truly research grade? In the microscope world  I've read RG means worthy of high school or college study and/or research.  

Bill

 

 

I remember seeing the Meade Newtonians advertised as research grade. I thought it a an advertising scheme.  But recently I've purchased some RG eyepieces and I find them to be truly better than average 1.25's. They seem to be known to be very good. I wonder if the RG Newts were noticeably better optically than other Meade models and Cave products. In other words were they truly research grade? In the microscope world  I've read RG means worthy of high school or college study and/or research.  

Bill

Back in the day, "professional" or "research grade" were terms applied in some cases to scopes that did not merit it.  Research grade in microscopy would likely mean the kind of optics a scope had, i.e., fluorite or apo objective lenses, higher quality condensers, eyepieces, better build quality, light sources, compared with "student" microscopes which were just achromatic with less mechanical refinement.  In telescopes, the terms are more likely marketing-oriented.  However, Meade may have reserved better-tested mirrors for scopes named "research grade." 


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#8 tim53

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 10:25 AM

Diebel liked big-sounding names.  Hence "System 2000" and "Research Grade".  Ultima was Celestron.  DS was supposed to stand for "Deep Space", but we called them "Diebel Specials".  grin.gif

 

Meade never made eyepieces, they were always imported.  Initially, from Japan.  Lately, China.

 

All the newtonian optics came from Coulter prior to about 1982, after which Meade had it's own optical shop.  All the early SCTs were Mizar, and the 4" always was Mizar.  The 8" and larger optics were made in-house beginning about 1982.

 

While I was working there, I had an 826 on loan to take planetary photos with, for possible use in a catalog.  I set it up alongside my 8" Optical Craftsmen Discoverer for comparison.  The Meade wasn't bad, but the OC was much better.  I still have the optics from the OC in my Springfield.

 

The Research Grade Newtonians were copies of Caves, with a few notable improvements.  The castings for the prototypes (in the ad photos) *were* cave castings with Astrola ground off and the thrust surfaces welded on.  Particle board was also used.  

 

I have a DS16 mount that I'm planning to put a Byers drive on one of these days for at-home planetary with my home-built 10" f/6 Newtonian (my own optics, made with Dave Groski's help:  https://skyandtelesc...e-april-2011-2/ ).  I know, it's on a Tak EM-500 in that picture, so why not keep it there?  The EM-500 is on a 4' pier at Cosmic Acres now, so the Newt needs a new home. cool.gif


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#9 Terra Nova

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 11:21 AM

My only experience with the Meade RG brand is my 7mm RG Ortho. It’s truly a wonderful eyepiece. Magnificent really in my Tak-76 and it barlows very well. It’s a favorite planetary performer! Mine stays in Tak 76 accessory box with my collection of circle T volcano tops and lone 32mm Brandon and Questar 27mm König eyepieces. It keeps company with them very well. Truly a keeper! Great eyepiece!!

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Edited by Terra Nova, 03 September 2021 - 11:34 AM.

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#10 Don W

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 12:04 PM

I used to have the full set of Meade RGs minus the 2" 32mm. My two favorites were the 20mm Wide angle and the 28mm Ortho. When at star parties I kept the 28 Ortho in my pocket and used it to gauge the quality of other people's optics. It gave a sharp image at reasonably wide views.

 

Meade RG Set2.jpg


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#11 mdowns

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 12:52 PM

Tim's first hand experience is as good as it gets.To the OP's question I can say that while meade was advertising their RG line of scopes and eyepieces I believe they represented the best meade had to offer at the time. I've had a full set of the RGs in the 80s and several partial sets since then.Even when TV was the rage I still  used my 16.8mm,20mm,28mm and 32mm Rgs the most.BTW,those meade Rg eyepieces  came from the same OEM who provided cave with the orthostar eyepieces,same eyepieces in very small fl differences or choices.I did buy a 1266 back in the mid eighties(maybe 86 ,87 or so).That was the 12".5  RG equipped with a 4.25' viewfinder,50mm finder,80mm guidscope,tangent arm and dual axis joystick controller.I have known a few folks who were unhappy with their RG scopes but I loved mine.Solid performing optics with just as pleasing performance from the mount.Really seemed like eye-candy to the guest who would visit my observatory.I lost all pics of that scope in a divorce but I found a couple of some of the RG eyepieces.In one you see a 32mm with the step down barrel,a real waste as vignetting spoiled the view as compared to the 32mm 2" I had before it.In the other pic the Rgs are in the center with the 28,20,16.7,15.5,12.4,10.5 and 7mm ortho.

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#12 Bomber Bob

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 01:28 PM

My only experience with the Meade RG brand is my 7mm RG Ortho. It’s truly a wonderful eyepiece. Magnificent really in my Tak-76 and it barlows very well. It’s a favorite planetary performer! Mine stays in Tak 76 accessory box with my collection of circle T volcano tops and lone 32mm Brandon and Questar 27mm König eyepieces. It keeps company with them very well. Truly a keeper! Great eyepiece!!

I've bought & sold a lot of astro-stuff, but I won't part with my c. 1980 Meade RG Orthos.  Still outstanding performance, and they bring back a ton of very happy memories, too!

 

And... if the RG Newts are better than the 826 OTA that I inherited from CHAS... Wow!  Definite Keepers.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 03 September 2021 - 01:31 PM.

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#13 CHASLX200

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 05:58 PM

Back in the 80's, I got a RG 20mm eyepiece and loved it. Contrast and sharpness are excellent. It is still in rotation in my ep rotation.

An observing buddy back in the day had a RG 16 inch Newtonian that was very nice. The mount made it a bear to move around.

Meade never made a 16" RG.


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#14 CHASLX200

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 06:02 PM

I've bought & sold a lot of astro-stuff, but I won't part with my c. 1980 Meade RG Orthos.  Still outstanding performance, and they bring back a ton of very happy memories, too!

 

And... if the RG Newts are better than the 826 OTA that I inherited from CHAS... Wow!  Definite Keepers.

I loved that 826 OTA.  I would trade my heavy 10" RG for a 8".
 


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#15 Bomber Bob

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 06:54 PM

I loved that 826 OTA.  I would trade my heavy 10" RG for a 8".
 

Well, I thank you for it -- that it made its way to The Swamp.  It's a remarkably light 8" F6 Newt with refractor-like views.  A BB Definite Keeper -- UNLESS by some cosmic co-ink-i-dink I come across a Classic 10" Cassegrain that can ride on my Tinsley EQ.  Then... all bets are off!



#16 CHASLX200

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 07:09 PM

Going from 8" to 10" is a big jump in weight.


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#17 dnrmilspec

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Posted 03 September 2021 - 07:34 PM

I won't repeat the whole story but in the mid 70's I went to Costa Mesa to the factory to pick up a Model 826.  Unfortunately I went on a Saturday and they were not open but a "guy" let me in and put together a scope for me.  He threw in a set of rotating rings from the Research Series.

 

Optically the 826 and the research series optics were the same.  In fact an ad from the same time said, "Includes exact same 1/10 wave optics of the deluxe and Research Grade telescopes."  Though the guy gave me a break on the price for being a soldier it was still right at $500.00 with an extra ep and a barlow which, in today's dollars would be about $2400.00. The Research Grade, according to the ad I am looking at was $1250 which would be a whopping $6000.00 in today's dollars.  A lot of money for an 8" Newt and mount.

 

It occurs to me that we oldsters forget how expensive fairly basic astronomy equipment used to be.  In that same ad the 12.5" Research Grade came in just under $10,000.00 in today's money. 


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#18 bjkaras

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Posted 04 September 2021 - 11:16 PM

Meade never made a 16" RG.

It was probably a 16” Starfinder on an RG mount?



#19 bjkaras

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Posted 04 September 2021 - 11:21 PM

I won't repeat the whole story but in the mid 70's I went to Costa Mesa to the factory to pick up a Model 826.  Unfortunately I went on a Saturday and they were not open but a "guy" let me in and put together a scope for me.  He threw in a set of rotating rings from the Research Series.

 

Optically the 826 and the research series optics were the same.  In fact an ad from the same time said, "Includes exact same 1/10 wave optics of the deluxe and Research Grade telescopes."  Though the guy gave me a break on the price for being a soldier it was still right at $500.00 with an extra ep and a barlow which, in today's dollars would be about $2400.00. The Research Grade, according to the ad I am looking at was $1250 which would be a whopping $6000.00 in today's dollars.  A lot of money for an 8" Newt and mount.

 

It occurs to me that we oldsters forget how expensive fairly basic astronomy equipment used to be.  In that same ad the 12.5" Research Grade came in just under $10,000.00 in today's money. 

That’s even more than what Cave charged. I paid $310 for my 6” Student Deluxe in 1972, which would be around $1500 in today’s dollars.



#20 CHASLX200

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Posted 05 September 2021 - 05:39 AM

It was probably a 16” Starfinder on an RG mount?

They came on another mount.



#21 tim53

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Posted 05 September 2021 - 08:04 AM

A DS-16


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#22 John Rogers

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Posted 05 September 2021 - 11:20 AM

Meade_RG880.JPG

 

Here is my RG880.  I can attest to the quality of the optics.  Last winter on a night with good seeing, I was able to crank up the magnification on the Trapezium in the Orion Nebula.  The four stars all exhibited nice diffraction patterns and it easily resolved some of the other components.

 

The only downside is the mount head is quite heavy, so it does not get set up very often.


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#23 RalphMeisterTigerMan

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Posted 08 September 2021 - 08:46 AM

BTW, with the DS16 the ads would always say that for $350 or so more you could upgrade to the "seal-master ballbearings, highly recomended".

 

Anyone ever go for the seal-master ballbearing upgrade and was it worth it?

 

Clear skies and keep looking up!

RalphMeisterTigerMan




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