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One Life Long Saga of Meade’s forgotten CAT, its 102 mm 2045 LX3 SCT


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#1 sxiniasgreece

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 09:00 AM

One Life Long Saga of Meade’s forgotten CAT, its 102 mm 2045 LX3 SCT

Back in the 80s I purchased what Meade Advertised as “A Portable Observatory,” its 102 mm, 2045 LX3 SCT; a miniaturized version of its larger sibling, the Meade 2080 LX3 but with a table tripod instead of a wedge and tripod.  Like many a newcomer, I was overwhelmed by the task of finding objects and greatly disappointed when I did. My Meade 2045 SCT – mothballed – served as a family room decoration with an occasional recall to duty.  Through the decades, some event would call my attention to the skies and I would take out the scope but the results were always the same …. frustration after a week or so and back on the family room bookcase it went. 

Last year, I ran across a Meade DS2090AT on eBay at an almost give away price.  Intrigued with the goto mount, I purchased the scope.  The scope was a big disappointment as its fit and finish were nowhere comparable to that of the Meade 2045. But the DS2000 mount appeared to be a well constructed piece of equipment and well worth the price I paid.  First light with the DS2090AT and WOW!  For the first time I was seeing other galaxies and nebula other than the Great Orion Nebula. Even though nearly all the deep space objects were but tiny smears of grey, I was hooked.  With the goto mount leading the way, I was actually able to find many objects with my 102 mm SCT.  However, I was intrigued why the low cost 90mm scope outperformed a far more expensive and slightly larger SCT. 

On the internet and its many astronomy forums, I learned about the importance of collimation.  I setup my 2045 in an equatorial mode using its table top tripod with the north star as my target. The star test revealed all .. the black center dot was all the way over to the edge of the field of view.  Many attempts at collimation over several weeks were always the same, the black dot never moved toward the center but just around the outer edge.  The 90 mm refractor continued to provide the better views.

Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I removed the corrector plate taking precautions I’d read about regarding mirror and corrector plate orientation. I found that the secondary mirror was slightly off centered, a millimeter or so.  However, careful measurements reveled that the secondary mirror mount was not orthogonal to the corrector plate, again not off by much.  The problem was a faulty secondary mirror mount casting which was easily repaired.  I reassembled the scope and that night, finally a successful collimation.  Went to Jupiter. The economy 90 mm refractor was second best by a long shot.

I manufactured a “L” bracket and used the 2045’s ¼ inch tripod bolt hole and soon had it mounted to the DS2000 GOTO mount. The marriage between the little SCT and the DS2000 mount was perfect and gave me the heavens. The combination proved a super grab and go combination, one hand with the scope and the other with my accessories, out the back door, down the road a couple hundred yards or so to a dark spot and viewing in a matter of minutes. I spent a lot of money on AA batteries.

Like all beginners, aperture fever hit hard.  My choices here in Greece are few and expensive.  When Celestron discontinued its C6S SCT with the manually operated CG5 mount, I was able to buy one here at a reasonable price.  My plan was to use the Meade 2045 SCT to show the way follow up manually with the C6S.  Sitting up two scopes was a chore; especially when one weighs 55 pounds (25kg).  The C6S with no goto mount rapidly became my new office décor as I continued using the Meade 2045 SCT several times each week learning the night skies.

The problem with the C6S is no goto I rationalized so I installed an iOptron NOVA goto kit on the CG5 mount which worked well enough.  However, the scope still weighted 55 plus pounds and remained movable but definitely was not portable.  Even with the goto installed, the C6S sat unused.  The Meade 2045 was simply too easy and convenient to grab, go out the back door, set up and see the stars.

Finally a few weeks ago, I purchased a SkyWatcher SynScan Alt/Az goto mount for the C6S.  Now it too is a grab and go and at long last is being used. I put the Meade 2045 SCT back on its double fork mount.  In the azimuth mode Meade’s little and mostly forgotten SCT is truly what Meade advertised it to be back in the 80s, a portable observatory; a super grab and go; no batteries, power packs, or adapters needed.  Yes, it still remains in service; perfect for when I have only a few minutes or so, when I want to practice the art of star hopping, or like last night, when a visiting neighbor’s kid wanted to see the moon.  The Meade DS2090AT refractor and mount; well they are in storage waiting for my grandson to age a bit more. 

Joe
Sxinias Greece
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#2 photobud

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 08:08 PM

Nice to see someone with both the drive and ability to turn a doorstop (decoration) into a useful tool. Congratulations on your successful endeavors!
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Telescopes:
Meade ETX-125 w/ Magellan Autostar II, Meade LX-50 8" w/ Magellan Autostar II, Orion ShortTube 90, Celestron Firstscope 114
Cameras:
SBIG ST237A, Canon 10D DSLR

#3 sxinias

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 12:02 AM

A year and slightly more has passed since I started this thead.  Since then, I have refined the performance of my Meade 2045LX3 102 mm SCT some more. I found that the corrector plate was not centered which was easily corrected.  The 2045LX3 optics are often bashed which I think is an urban myth.  The optics are excellent, however, like many telescopes manufactured at that time, the scope did suffer from the Halley Scope syndrome. After correcting for the off-corrector plate, I do not think any more issues exist with my 2045.  Stars are sharp, pin points of light and, for the first time in the 20 odd years I've owned the scope, collimation is easy to achieve. 

In the past year, I have added a Meade LX200 8 inch SCT OTA to my kit which gives me three SCTs (Meade 2045 SCT, Celestron C6S, and the LX200 8 inch OTA).  I have the Meade 2045LX3 on its orginal table top tripod, the C6S OTA on a SkyWatcher AZ goto mount, and the Meade LX200 OTA on the CG5 mount that came with the C6S.  The other night I did two comparisons between these three SCTs .. Jupiter and M42.  The results were interesting.

For Jupiter, my C6S tied with my Meade 8 inch LX200; both limited by seeing conditions.  For M42, the Meade 8 inch LX200 was clearly the best. 

However, my Meade 2045LX3 102 mm SCT more than held its own against its larger companions. 

Jupiter ... Seeing was fair. I did the comparison without first checking to see if the great red spot was visible to earth or the positions of its moons in orbit. I first started the comparison with the 2045.  With a 12.4 mm eyepiece, I could see the equatorial cloud band, hints in the south, as well as the polar clouds ...  and ... is it the great red spot or not? ... couldn't really say if it was wishfull imagination or the real thing. Seeing conditions did not support my 9.7 mm eyepiece. I could clearly see the shaddow of one moon on Jupiter's surface.  Next went to the C6S and sure enough, the great red spot was exactly where I thought I saw it with the Meade 2045.  Not bad for my old eyes and very good for the 2045.

M42. Seeing condition had improved considerable. Here again, the 2045 held its own. While its small light gathering capability did not show the details in M42 nebula that were visible in the larger SCTs, the four stars of the Trapezum were clearly visible through the 2045 using a 32mm eyepiece .... 4 tiny, sharp, pin points of light.  The view through the LX200 8 inch OTA was beautiful with the C6S, although very good, a definite second best. 

My 2045LX3 is my most used telescope.  I have it on its orginal double tine fork mount and table top tripod.  I'm an impulse type of guy and the scope is so easy to take out and take advantage of a spur of the moment opportunity. I can be viewing in less than one minute from the time I make a decision to do so. Back in its day, its quartz drive was the technology leader.  One night this winter, I plan to set it up in the equatorial mode, attach my DSLR to it, plug in the drive, and take some photos of M42.

Back in the 1980s Meade advertised this little jewel as its Portable Observatory. I think that it still is.
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#4 sxinias

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 12:38 PM

The latest in the life of my Meade 2045LX3 4 inch SCT. 

It is now serving as a camera scope mounted on a NexStar 4SE mount and tripod and with a 6.3 focal reducer and corrector; Canon EOS 1000D camera. The objective is the complete Messier List. I use the 2045 for imaging not only because it is faster than the 4SE but also much lighter.  The Meade 2045 OTA, visual back, T ring and adapter, focal reducer, and camera in total weigh less than the 4SE OTA alone. 

I've made my own version of "Bob's Knobs" for my 2045. Bob does not stock knobs for the 2045 but was very helpfull telling me what size threads were needed. Now that I can easily collimate the scope, other than image size and a bit of difference in contrast, I can't tell the difference in views between the 2045 and the 4SE.  Both are sharp.

I've often wondered why Meade does not bring its forgotten SCT back to life.  It is an excellent telescope with many attributes more favorable for viewing as well as imaging than assocated with small MAKs.

#5 sxinias

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Posted 01 June 2015 - 12:48 AM

Well a few years have passed by and I still have my Meade 2045LX3. After serving me well as a OTA for astrophotography, I replaced it with a short tube refractor in 2013 and it again became a decore/grab and go telescope. 

 

Earlier this year I entered into the world of astrovideo astronomy. I soon found a pressing need for a short focal length telescope with a very bright image without chromatic abberation...My little 102 mm SCT was drafted back into active duty and is doing very well with a series of focal reducers and operating as a rich field of view telescope with a focal length of approximately 330 mm and a focal ratio of around f/3.  Focus is an issue and at f/3 and I must use the SCT star diagonal that came with the telescope or no diagonal at all as a visual back adds too much length. There is some distortion around the outer part of the field of view but for the most part the image is acceptable.

 

Little did I know when I purchased the little SCT that 28 years later it would still be serving me in active servide and serving me well. Again, too bad Meade doesn't bring it back again. 

 

BTW, my 102mm MAK is a bench warmer ... while the MAK is a bit better than my 102mm SCT for solar system objects it isn't that much better and it can not compete for deep space.  As far as doing duty as a camera scope... the little MAK simply is too slow and on the heavy side.



#6 MistrBadgr

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Posted 01 June 2015 - 07:53 PM

This is a great series of posts!  Thanks for sharing!

 

A note about your 2090 refractor:  I have an article I wrote about the new Infinity 102 refractor attached to a post in the beginners' forum.  In it, I talk about things I have done to it to make it better.  I have found the 2090 refractors to work much better with the same things done to them, including making sure the whole tube length is straight using a good straight edge, make sure the ends have been cut square using a good square and working my way around the whole tube with a file and holding the tube and square up to a light to see small errors.  The focuser can be collimated on the newer ones with a bit of creativity.  Blackening the objective edge and doing things to reduce reflections as outlined in the article really help.  Those optical tubes can be turned into good instruments with some tender loving care.

 

Again, thanks for posting!

 

Bill Steen


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Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

#7 sxiniasgreece

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 10:25 AM

Bill,

A belated thanks. You are right.  With a little attention to the focuser, alignment, and darkening of lens edges/tubes the 2090 refractor is easily improved with the focuser the remaining weak link.  I had not thought about using a square to improve alignment of the optical train. 

 

BTW, my DS2090AT remains in active service, I've loaned it to a friend who uses it as his only telescope.  While it uses a lot of plastic, its optics are impressive for an inexpensive telescope.

 

Joe






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