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Who's still using the Meade Starfinder EQ mount?

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#1 Tom Stock

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Posted 05 July 2022 - 01:33 PM

I've been using my recently acquired 10" starfinder.  It's a scope I drooled over in the 90s.  

 

I admit I almost sold it after trying to drag it out last week (very hard to move), but over the weekend I picked up a hardwood dolly and now it rolls out effortlessly.

 

After eliminating the setup problem I found I really enjoy using this very simple mount.  The eyepiece position with a 10" F4.5 is comfortable, and tracking with the DC RA drive is just fine, no complaints at all.  As long as you aren't changing OTA's the RA clutch can be set and left as is.

 

So I wondered who else is still using one of these old starfinder equatorial mounts?  Have you made any modifications to it such as larger setting circles or taller pier?  

 

Share pics if you have them!


Edited by Tom Stock, 05 July 2022 - 01:34 PM.


#2 Bomber Bob

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Posted 05 July 2022 - 05:32 PM

I use 2 MSF's:

 

Meade 826 Restore S01 - Lumicon 125 HF.jpg

C102 Restore S22 - Meade SF TALL (RS Full).jpg

 

 

 


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#3 otis4411

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Posted 05 July 2022 - 06:18 PM

I made a mistake and put mine in a storage facility in town for a year. When I got it back out the drive ran real erratic. I think the heat inside that metal storage unit was too much for it. I bought it new in 1994. I still use the 8" Ota I have it on a gm811 losmandy mount.
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#4 Tom Stock

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Posted 06 July 2022 - 01:42 PM

I made a mistake and put mine in a storage facility in town for a year. When I got it back out the drive ran real erratic. I think the heat inside that metal storage unit was too much for it. I bought it new in 1994. I still use the 8" Ota I have it on a gm811 losmandy mount.

I've heard that these dc drives fail and start tracking too fast but I guess I have been lucky as both I have owned tracked ok


Edited by Tom Stock, 06 July 2022 - 01:42 PM.

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#5 mlyoung83

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Posted 07 July 2022 - 05:40 AM

Still gets used somewhat around here.

 

51891872366_643c7f150d_b.jpg1DS30026 by Mitchell Young, on Flickr


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#6 Tom Stock

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Posted 07 July 2022 - 07:15 AM

Still gets used somewhat around here.

 

51891872366_643c7f150d_b.jpg1DS30026 by Mitchell Young, on Flickr

 Nice 550SX as well. Is that a magellan 2 setup?


Edited by Tom Stock, 07 July 2022 - 07:17 AM.


#7 mlyoung83

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Posted 07 July 2022 - 05:50 PM

Yes, it's a Magellan setup, although I don't remember the last time I used it.  This scope is mainly used for lunar/planetary viewing for star parties. I have a 16" dob for everything else in the sky. 



#8 otis4411

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 05:03 PM

I've heard that these dc drives fail and start tracking too fast but I guess I have been lucky as both I have owned tracked ok

 That's what mine was doing. Literally slewing in RA.



#9 Garyth64

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 06:41 PM

Here's my 5" Apogee on my Starfinder mount:

 

Apogee on Starfinder 2.jpg

 

Here my Meade 395 on a Starfinder mount:

 

Meade 395 on Starfinder.jpg

 

and for some testing, I put my AT130 EDT on the Starfinder too:

 

getting better.jpg

 

The mount worked well, but I mostly used a CG5 because of the dual controls.  Now it just sits alone on a shelf.


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#10 Tom Stock

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 07:02 PM

 That's what mine was doing. Literally slewing in RA.

I think this is due to the photo diode or IR led failing.  Should be an easyish fix.


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#11 CA'nCACalvin

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 12:22 AM

Hello,

    I'm going to try putting a Meade LXD55 6" refractor on one.  I see CN members such as Bomber Bob putting much nicer, large refractors on them so I guess it will hold my low budget scope.  I bought both the scope and mount at different times a while back not even intending to use them together but lucked out that it looks like this will work.  I got the mount as part of an EBay purchase of a Meade reflector which the primary came loose and ruined the mirror/OTA during shipping so I way over spent just for the mount.  I binge bought the LXD55 with nothing to mount it on.  I've never put the mount together or removed the LXD55 scope from the box it came in so if this won't work, I might as well throw them both out on the trash pile as neither are worth the cost to ship them to a new home.  By reading the comments above, it looks like it would be best to try plugging my mount into power to see if it works before trying to assemble it.  I'm worried as it has been stored in a hot shed.

 

Thanks,

Calvin.



#12 Tom Stock

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 09:36 AM

 

I'm going to try putting a Meade LXD55 6" refractor on one. 

 

...

 

I binge bought the LXD55 with nothing to mount it on.  I've never put the mount together or removed the LXD55 scope from the box it came in so if this won't work, I might as well throw them both out on the trash pile as neither are worth the cost to ship them to a new home.  

Thanks,

Calvin.

I think they would both be ok to ship without too much expense (fedex) if disassembled and packed well with small boxes inside a bigger box, but someone would surely pick them up in person if you sold them.  I am looking for a cheap focuser for my 10", the stock plastic focuser is pretty bad. What type of focuser is on your smashed OTA?

 

For the LXD55 you may need to make the pier taller with some steel tubing, or mount the starfinder EQ head on a tripod, because otherwise the eyepiece will be very low for a refractor.  With my 10" reflector eyepiece is at comfortable height while standing, so with a refactor it would be the opposite.

 

You'll need to fabricate some sort of cradle and rings. If the refractor came with the rings then it should be easy, just cut off each end of the starfinder "saddle" and bolt the rings to the remaining plate (drilling a couple holes).


Edited by Tom Stock, 12 July 2022 - 09:38 AM.

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#13 CA'nCACalvin

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Posted 13 July 2022 - 12:49 AM

I think they would both be ok to ship without too much expense (fedex) if disassembled and packed well with small boxes inside a bigger box, but someone would surely pick them up in person if you sold them.  I am looking for a cheap focuser for my 10", the stock plastic focuser is pretty bad. What type of focuser is on your smashed OTA?

 

For the LXD55 you may need to make the pier taller with some steel tubing, or mount the starfinder EQ head on a tripod, because otherwise the eyepiece will be very low for a refractor.  With my 10" reflector eyepiece is at comfortable height while standing, so with a refactor it would be the opposite.

 

You'll need to fabricate some sort of cradle and rings. If the refractor came with the rings then it should be easy, just cut off each end of the starfinder "saddle" and bolt the rings to the remaining plate (drilling a couple holes).

Hello,

     The damage OTA has a plastic focuser that I would think is stock to a vintage Meade reflector made about 1978 but I'm not sure of that or if that was when it was built.  I received it with the primary mirror sliding loose about the interior of the tube so I never paid it much attention.  It could still be good?  It was sold as an 8" and it looks like it's really a 6" which upset me somewhat.  It was a double EBay purchase with the seller selling the tube and mount separate.  The price for both plus shipping for both were about what I saw similar scope/mount selling for but the seller contacted me and needed more money to ship these two boxes then packed it all into one big box and decided not to include the counter weights.  Paid more than it was worth (at 6") so it went to storage and I've never touched it since BUT if the mount will work for the refactor, it will not be a total loss.

     The 6" refractor looks to be in good condition.  It's all original with the ring cradle and plastic focuser.  Yes, it will be low to the ground (too low to be used) without an extension but I worry it won't be very stable if I extend it.  I've been meaning to put up a pier and buy a better mount but maybe I should give it a go with this mount before shelling out more money.  A pier would probably be done for about the same money as having an extension fabricated.  I've never thought to look if there is an extension available for these old things that can be purchased new.

    These mounts seem like they are fairly robust so with the prices of mounts that will hold heavier scopes, I wonder why, even despite their age and lack of modern features, these don't get better prices when being sold used?

    Thanks for the advice of how to attach the scope to the mount.

 

Thanks,

Calvin.


Edited by CA'nCACalvin, 13 July 2022 - 12:59 AM.


#14 Tom Stock

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Posted 13 July 2022 - 08:58 AM

 

    A pier would probably be done for about the same money as having an extension fabricated.  I've never thought to look if there is an extension available for these old things that can be purchased new.

    These mounts seem like they are fairly robust so with the prices of mounts that will hold heavier scopes, I wonder why, even despite their age and lack of modern features, these don't get better prices when being sold used?

    Thanks for the advice of how to attach the scope to the mount.

 

Thanks,

Calvin.

The pier is really like a steel tube with holes drilled in it, so you could probably buy a section of steel pipe of the correct inside diameter, and drill the holes with a hand drill. A coat of black paint and you're done.

 

I think manual equatorial mounts in general have been sort of forgotten for computerized and portable mounts.

 

This mount is a bit of a pain to take off site, but if you can just roll it out to the back yard or driveway, it's no problem at all.



#15 Bomber Bob

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Posted 13 July 2022 - 10:16 AM

Gary, I'm a big fan of your tripods, and your MSF on that one looks great!

 

You got me thinking...  I've been working on adapting my short ped MSF to a Losmandy all-metal tripod base, and I'm not happy with it.  Now that my Big AZ mount is settled, and I still have that hefty Filotecnica wood tripod & massive hub, I think it would be a stable enough platform for my old Meade 826 Newt.  I'm at least gonna test it before trying anything else with the Losmandy.


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#16 Jim in PA

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Posted 13 July 2022 - 10:41 AM

I think this is due to the photo diode or IR led failing.  Should be an easyish fix.

The DC drives had a bad rep, but they're actually pretty bullet-proof except for the LED.  The component most likely to fail is the IR LED, that's probably the case in the vast majority of mounts that run at slew speed instead of tracking.  

 

I don't know for certain, but I suspect the mcu was programmed to interpret little to no light detection from the sensor as a fast slew command.  I wouldn't be surprised if they did that, never considering that the mount would just slew forever if the LED failed.  It would be interesting to see what the LED does when the mount is issued a fast slew command...anyway, pretty much any digital camera should be able to easily detect the IR LED...a small point and shoot camera with an LCD live view should be able to instantly tell anyone with this problem if the IR LED is not emitting at all.  Edit:  For those that carry cell phones, their cameras will pick up the IR LED also ;)


Edited by Jim in PA, 13 July 2022 - 10:43 AM.

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#17 Tom Stock

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Posted 13 July 2022 - 11:24 AM

I think its probably counting / timing the pulses. Too few, speed up, to many, slow down.  



#18 Jim in PA

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Posted 13 July 2022 - 11:39 AM

Could be.  But just from a software design perspective, it would've made sense to have better error handling. 

 

Enjoy your "new" mount, I too like a simple RA drive while observing.



#19 CA'nCACalvin

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Posted 16 July 2022 - 12:04 AM

Hello again,

     I'm not able to say that I'm sill using one as I just assembled, late this evening, the one I purchased last year and have not used it yet.  I didn't get it completely put in use as I had some issues but will not plug up this thread with asking help for those and also I don't have the counter weights.

 

   Thank you to those who posted pictures with their post as those images made it a lot easier for me to assemble it.  I had never put one together before.  I took a couple pictures myself and resized them down to CN's requested size limits, to include with this post but don't know how to add them but that's another subject I don't want to plug this thread up with by asking here.

 

Thank you,

Calvin.



#20 CA'nCACalvin

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Posted 23 July 2022 - 07:04 PM

Hello again,

    Not yet in use but set up to see what I have got to work with.  Looks complete other than the counter weights.  The mirror is loose in the tube as shown in the inset photo.  The OTA was put on there for the picture as this is the Reflector section.  I don't know if I will ever repair this but will likely use the mount for my working man's budget yard cannon which just happens to fit right into the mounting straps (not shown straight or tightened in this quick snap shot) with its mount cradle still on. I'm thrilled with that as I thought I'd greatly over spent on junk!

 

Thanks again,

Calvin.

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_0712 (2) - Copy.JPG
  • IMG_0713 (2).JPG

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#21 CHASLX200

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 05:47 AM

Here's my 5" Apogee on my Starfinder mount:

 

attachicon.gifApogee on Starfinder 2.jpg

 

Here my Meade 395 on a Starfinder mount:

 

attachicon.gifMeade 395 on Starfinder.jpg

 

and for some testing, I put my AT130 EDT on the Starfinder too:

 

attachicon.gifgetting better.jpg

 

The mount worked well, but I mostly used a CG5 because of the dual controls.  Now it just sits alone on a shelf.

It's a much better mount than the 826 mount. I liked my 8" Starfinder when i had it back in 1993.
 


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#22 CHASLX200

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 05:50 AM

Hello again,

    Not yet in use but set up to see what I have got to work with.  Looks complete other than the counter weights.  The mirror is loose in the tube as shown in the inset photo.  The OTA was put on there for the picture as this is the Reflector section.  I don't know if I will ever repair this but will likely use the mount for my working man's budget yard cannon which just happens to fit right into the mounting straps (not shown straight or tightened in this quick snap shot) with its mount cradle still on. I'm thrilled with that as I thought I'd greatly over spent on junk!

 

Thanks again,

Calvin.

That is a 90's made OTA. Finder and end rings and foucser are the give away.  Here is a 1980 made OTA 826. It's very easy to remove the loose mirror and cell and clean the mirror and put it back in the cell and back into the tube.  It will give very good images.

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_0682.JPG

Edited by CHASLX200, 24 July 2022 - 05:52 AM.

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#23 CHASLX200

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 05:54 AM

Here is the 826 mount and compare the cone shaped axis on the Starfinder mount and you will see why it is a better mount. If i could find a Starfinder mount local i would put my 8" on it.

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_0683.JPG

Edited by CHASLX200, 24 July 2022 - 05:57 AM.

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#24 Tom Stock

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 09:34 PM

Hello again,

    Not yet in use but set up to see what I have got to work with.  Looks complete other than the counter weights.  The mirror is loose in the tube as shown in the inset photo.  The OTA was put on there for the picture as this is the Reflector section.  I don't know if I will ever repair this but will likely use the mount for my working man's budget yard cannon which just happens to fit right into the mounting straps (not shown straight or tightened in this quick snap shot) with its mount cradle still on. I'm thrilled with that as I thought I'd greatly over spent on junk!

 

Thanks again,

Calvin.

I see you have the AC motor.  I think it's probably more accurate and reliable than the DC motor.



#25 Tom Stock

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 09:34 PM

That is a 90's made OTA. Finder and end rings and foucser are the give away.  Here is a 1980 made OTA 826. It's very easy to remove the loose mirror and cell and clean the mirror and put it back in the cell and back into the tube.  It will give very good images.

Is the RG OTA made of steel? Only problem with the starfinder is that the RA circle isn't driven.  I know that's not common but I wish it was!

 

Also the silly saddle plate.  It works, it's not terrible, but real rings would sure be nice. 


Edited by Tom Stock, 24 July 2022 - 09:37 PM.



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