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LX80 8 Inch Part# 0810-08-01 Arrived!!!

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#1 tmohr36

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:17 PM

To say, I'm excited, would be an understatement. To put all the wondering aside at the top of this Post, I have not opened the boxes yet.......yet!

UPS delivered my highly anticipated LX80 mount and 8 inch OTA, today at 1:42pm PDT. Currently working until midnight PDT though, so no report until the morning. Until then, at least I can read the manual and become more familiar with the set up.

Anyone else get their delivery yet?

Clear Skies,

Tom Mohr

#2 Meade

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:45 PM

Awesome!

I look forward to seeing some pictures :)

#3 tmohr36

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 03:14 PM

I work odd hours (Noon-Midnight) PDT. I did get a chance to open the boxes this morning before work. I also assembled everything, balanced in RA and DEC and applied power. Hand controller responded like I expected. Drives "slewed" properly...then I had to go to work.

What I find odd, no hand control holder???? I do not see it mentioned in the manual at all, so maybe there isn't one.....Does anyone know for sure? I'll have to search the boxes again, but I don't recall seeing one.

I'll be posting pictures of it setup later on tonight, I'll provide the link in this thread.

Tom Mohr

#4 Meade

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:09 PM

The LX80 doesn't come with a hand box holder.

#5 tmohr36

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:43 PM

That answers that! Thanks!

Here are a couple pictures in Polar Mode:

http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/

#6 exparrot

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 09:33 AM

Hey, Tom

Congrats! The pics look great, too. What a beautiful scope/mount combo! I can't wait to get mine. Looking forward to more info as you have time to test and post the results.

#7 astroshepy

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 02:17 PM

Hay Meade why doesnt it come with a handbox holder? Are we supposed to let it dangle like on my LXD75 SN10". On your website it shows the handbox attached to the mount head somehow. It also shows this on pictures in the instructions I downloaded from your site. Are you going to offer one for sale because its a real pain not having somewhere to put it? I dont mind buying one if its not too much but I would think you would at least include a handbox holder. That was one of the things some of us were glad you included when we saw the pictures. It was even talked about in another forum. Meade was being praised for it. I am waiting for my mount ordered last year. After all these delays I hope you provide a holder.

#8 tmohr36

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 03:25 PM

Astroshepy,

I can understand the need/want to have a holder, but in using the telescope for the past week, I found that simply attaching velcro to each leg just below the levelers and to the back of the hand control a perfect and cheap solution ($2.97 at walmart (industrial strength)). Now, no matter what side of the tripod I'm on, I can simply "hang" the hand control on the velcro. It rides there quite nicely, allows the cord to follow the mount movement and keeps me from wondering if it will fall off the accessory tray. This solution worked for me.

Tom Mohr

#9 tmohr36

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 03:44 PM

I've made some posts on other forums across the internet about my experience with the LX80. I do understand that some folks here might not access those forums and come here for genuine Meade information.

@Admin, if you find this information is too redundant or you feel the post does not conform to the rules of this forum, I know you will remove the post, but please let me know and I will formulate another post summarizing the information.

What follows are copy/paste of posts I've made about the mount:

I know there are many here waiting for a proper first light with pictures, in-depth analysis of the LX80's operation and an overall "is it good". I won't be able to give anything like that until at least Sunday night, but I wanted to report that all the packages did arrive 5/2/2012. Four of them: Tripod, mount, OTA and an additional counterweight.

There was no damage to the boxes during shipping, but there were some issues that I ran into. The Lens Cap to the 8x50 finder was cracked. No damage to the finder objective that I could see and no scuffed paint. Not too big of an issue, but hey, it IS new, right?
A tripod foot fell off sometime during its travels. The screw used to secure the foot to the tripod leg was a good size larger in diameter and would not thread into the appropriate hole on the tripod leg. I'm sure turning the box around during shipment with loosened tripod leg locks allowed the foot to tap off over time. I'll have to hit up the hardware store to find the correct screw.

One of the Tripod Leg Lock Knobs is gone completely. I'm not sure if it was ever there. It's not that the knob was snapped off the bolt. The hole for this lock is clean and clear. I did verify that the hole isn't stripped out by screwing another lock knob into it. I’ll just need to get that last one from Meade.

The last thing on my list of issues: I don't have a way to mount the hand control on the unit at all. It's not there and looking through the Manual, I don't see it listed anywhere either. If, in fact, Meade did not make one, I'll have to fashion something because setting it on the tripod leg spreader won't cut it. I know it will fall off eventually.

Tripod:
It's very robust, hefty and stable. It is leaps and bounds better than the LS-8. It is very similar to my CGEM or the Atlas EQ-G that I've seen. The lock knobs might cause some troubles in colder climates. For someone to use them with gloves on, they might be a bit too smooth. I'm still not convinced the tripod weighs 31.5 pounds. I'll have to weigh it later to confirm. This tripod has fine leveling adjustments built in. They don't adjust the tripod's level very much, but they do work quite well and smooth. The tripod is a wee bit (3 inches maybe) taller than the CGEM without the legs extended. I don’t know if they are equal at full extension.

Mount:
Ok, this thing is hefty though not as awkward as the CGEM. The handles on the sides are placed nicely for ease of lifting and moving. These handles made it easy to adjust side to side to mate the tabs on the mount bottom to the tripod top plate. It looks and feels well constructed. The multi-function hex head tool used to loosen the latitude locks and adjust azimuth/latitude is one of the items that worry me. It does store securely and easily in its slot. I just wonder how many times I'll set this thing down somewhere rather than putting it back in the proper spot. The adjustment tool’s use was simple and smooth. I think even a gloved hand would not have difficulties using it. Once I had all items installed, balancing was pretty simple. I must admit, I searched for the Dec lock and finally ended up looking back through the manual. The Dec lock is the silvery, knurled knob where the counterweight rod screws in. While balancing or moving in Dec clockwise, the Dec Lock will tighten a little, so make sure you loosen this lock enough to allow for the rotation. Not really an issue, but I noted that the Dec lock rotated with the motion of the counterweight rod.

I didn't have a lot of time to apply power and slew the thing around. It did slew just fine for the time I had power applied. Both motors work fine. No issues there. The motors were louder than the CGEM but on par with the LS-8. Of course this was inside, so a better determination will be made once I get a chance to go outside with it. From what I can tell the power connection is the same as my LS-8,but I will have to fashion a way to secure the cable. For my LS-8, I use a 90 degree plug. For the LX80, I’ll have to use a straight connection otherwise the cable comes out quite easy as the RA rotates. Maybe I need a larger Outer Diameter plug to make it more secure. I’ll know more with testing. The battery compartment, to me, is very flimsy and useless. I plan to install batteries to hold alignment in the event I lose power. I did the same with the Celestron 6SE I had last October. Doing so saved me some realignment time. I think this would prove positive for the LX80 mount as well. Just before I hurried off to work today, I was able to lift the full set up and move it to the side of the room. Meade and the math say it weighs 91.6 pounds with one Counterweight. I think that is over stated as it seems less to me.

Optical Tube Assembly:
Standard Meade OTA came with this setup. So the paperwork and web postings say anyway. It looks wonderful, but night time usage will tell if collimation has suffered from shipping or if any other issues present themselves. The box it came in clearly states SC, which led me to believe that I have the normal non-Advance Coma Free with UHTC. Careful inspection of the Corrector plate holder ring, hints to a different story. The holder ring clearly states: Advanced Coma Free. I don’t have a clue how to tell the difference or if I would be able to tell. Maybe someone here can pass a couple hints my way. This may be just “luck of the draw” or a simple factory error. Either way, I’ll be happy with the optics. A sharper image to the edge than standard, I guess. The OTA weighs about 14lbs and presented no problems installing on the mount. With the 8x50 finder installed though, the OTA tends to “lean” to the finder direction when I loosened the dovetail lock knobs while balancing. Keep a hand on the OTA just in case. I’d hate to “bounce check” all that glass.

I’ve covered pretty much everything I can think of at this time. If you have questions or want me to elaborate on something, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.

I’m excited about getting this mount out under the stars. Of course as I write this from work, it is crystal clear. My luck the clouds will roll in Saturday Night when I get off at midnight and will accompany me through my weekend. I promise a proper first light will come real soon.

I posted on Meade4M forum last night about the Hand control holder..Response: It doesn't have one I'll make something to save me from dropping it on the ground. I just need some time off work. Maybe a plastic hook or something so I can hang it on one of the handles...? Pictures and explanation to follow when I've decided.

This morning I switched to Alt/Az mode, giving the single OTA and dual OTA mounting options a try.

I didn't make any changes to how the OTA is balanced or to the weight attached in alt/az single ota mode. I simply returned the latitude back to 90 degrees, placed the mount in Alt/Az home position, selected Telescope type LX80 Alt/Az in AudioStar's menu, and proceeded to follow the easy align option. I didn't expect this, but the scope slewed in a direction nowhere near the alignment star it chose (Vega). Not wanting to cause any damage, I opted to cycle power and start over. The second attempt went much better. This time the telescope slewed to the approximate location of the alignment stars it chose (Vega, Capella). Conclusion: When changing telescope types, it seems one should power cycle before beginning alignment. Fine by me, now I know. No real time lost.

In Dual OTA mode, I removed two sections of Counterweight rod and the counterweight. I then attached the secondary Vixen dovetail adapter (supplied by the manufacturer) and attached my SV102ED to it. I eyeballed the angle to match the main OTA. Flicked the switch on and followed the easy align procedure. No change in drive sound from polar mode or single ota alt/az. Neither axis exhibited any strain. I'll note here that my refractor weighs about the same as a single counterweight possibly a little more. I've never used a setup like this, but I can easlily see how good it would be for outreach and sharing with my family & friends. Bob G. expressed interest here. Bob, do you have additional questions or actions I should test for you? I'm still testing inside, so I don't know how far off I was with the Main OTA. When I get it outside, we'll see what kind of adjustments will be needed to center on the same target.

I'm quickly learning the menu structure. It's just a matter of time until I know the buttons need to get to the menu items I'll use most. Same with the LS-8 and CGEM. The Menu structure has some "deep" areas where you navigate "down" a few levels, but this doesn't deter from its use. There are no dedicated buttons for Messier, NGC, Planets, Stars...etc. These are found by selecting objects menu and navigating to them. The number buttons select slew rate unless you're entering data into the hand control.

I've set the Audio play setting to "on demand". Now if I want to hear about the object selected, it's just a button press to call it up. I did this with my LS-8 as well. I still like this feature, I prefer to call it up when I want to.

I'm still grinning "EAR to EAR"! No major issues thus far.

As to the issues I described during my initial "unboxing". I'm excited to say OPT and Meade are working diligently to correct them all. See the end of this post for the resolution.

I was finally able to get the telescope/mount outside last night. Initially around 7pm. It wasn’t dark, but sundown was quickly approaching.

Tripod setup was simple. The feet are rubberized, which I didn’t notice when it was set up inside on the carpet. I do not know if this is standard for Meade’s large tripods, but I found it very nice. They acted like vibration pads I suspect. Leveling the tripod before putting the mount on top was simple, using the built-in bubble level in the center. The leg levelers worked as described. I had to adjust the legs to get closer to level. The levelers have limited travel and on one leg, there wasn’t quite enough travel. It was a simple process. Placing the mount on top using the mount’s built in handles was a breeze. It’s built in bubble level also showed I was spot on with no adjustment needed. I didn’t use an actual level, but I will tonight just to verify.
Last night was polar mode night so this is the only configuration I used. I did 8 to 10 alignments. I opted to use easy (two star) and the three star alignments. Moving from the CGEM to this mount, I have somewhat of a “tainted” understanding of polar alignment. I moved the tripod several times during the night to zero in on the pole star. My house blocks North view. The hand controller displays where the pole is after completing an alignment. I don’t know if other Meade mounts display this data so I’ll explain. After completing alignment, the display shows: The pole is (on first line). On the second line it displays numbers and pointer characters showing the direction to the pole. Like this 123’ ^ 191’>. In this example the pole is 123 minutes up latitude and 191 minutes right azimuth. I found that I could make corrections to these errors by using the latitude/azimuth adjustments, power cycle and re-align. I eventually got my polar alignment down to hand controller reported 9’v (down) and 11’< (left). I think I could have foregone the power cycle, but practice makes perfect, right? Gotos were way off at the beginning of my alignment series. Arcturus was more than 15 degrees off (fist at arm’s length measured) initially, but as my polar alignment improved it was finally in the finder scope at the end of the night. When the first alignment star was way off, the second star was also off considerably. Expectedly, the gotos did not bring the chosen object into the eyepiece, even the moon. By the end of the night, gotos were putting the chosen object in the eyepiece FOV. M13, M57, M27, Moon, M104, Saturn, Spica, Mars….you get the picture.
Some things to note: The DEC gearing has bad “slop” right now. I don’t know if train drives or backlash adjustment will correct this. I will see what can be done about it. I checked the Dovetail adapter (saddle?) and it is as tight as it can be. As I rocked the telescope from side to side, the movement was quite obvious at 78x magnification (even more so at 176x) and deterred from finding fine focus. This problem wasn’t apparent as the telescope slewed while centering alignment stars or precisely centering the object in the eyepiece. I deal with vibration problems on my LS-8, but the DEC movement was worse. Vibration on the LX80 wasn’t much of an issue. Dampening time was down to a second or so. One last thing to note: When the slewing to the other side of the sky (meridian flip) the mount would stop (pause) for about 3 seconds as it calculated the best telescope position for the transition to keep the telescope and accessories from striking the tripod leg. The pause was enough to make me suspect a goto problem, something to get used to, I guess. It seems to me, the pause might be reduced with better coding, but I’m not a software programmer so maybe these calculation pauses are necessary.

RA gearing is solid and there were no issues with it at all. The drives were reported as “loud” by my better half when I left the door open during a couple slews. The neighbors didn’t complain and I was more intent on testing rather than listening.

Tonight is Alt/Az mode trials. I’ll be using the 8 inch and the 4” refractor for dual OTA mode. Stay tuned for more updates as long as the clear skies hold out. My Astro Panel android app shows the clouds moving in as the sun goes down, but no precipitation. If I get clouded out, tomorrow and Wednesday are showing clear.
To the issue: No Hand control holder. I used the tripod spreader center rod and the supplied level/compass as a makeshift holder. I found the gap between where the compass sat in an eyepiece slot of the spreader and the center rod perfect to hold the hand control securely during slews. I’m leaning toward a Velcro solution to this, though.

I’ve probably only “skimmed the surface” of topics you’d like to see discussed. Please, if you have any questions, ask!

I’ll be doing my first collimation tonight too. The secondary is definitely off when defocusing the image. This will be another first for me. I went to the manual for collimation explanation, but it isn’t there. I’ve read the procedure many times. I did find it explained in my LS manual. I just have to be careful not to make it worse.

I was able to do two Alt/Az alignments. There are two options. 1) true north, 2) compass north.

My true north wasn't true enough. Gotos didn't put anything near the eyepiece despite having a "successful" alignment. I'll work on my true north positioning the next time. Clouds were quickly rolling in and I wanted to try compass north. I repositioned the tripod. Power cycle the mount. Another successful alignment and this time Gotos placed the object just off center at 78x magnification. A couple slews to mars, sirius and Betelgeuse. Same scenario, just off center. Very happy about that. Clouds shut me down early, but at least I was out again.

I'll note here that since the latitude is set at 90 degrees, in alt/az, the drive innards are not exposed as much resulting in quieter operation. Once again all drives worked perfectly.

I weighed tripod, mount head and OTA tonight before heading out.

Tripod: 32lbs
Mount: 32.6lbs
OTA: 14lbs (8 inch)

I really like the handles on the mount. Moving the Tripod, mount and Counterweight bar outside went smoothly enough. Not nearly as awkward as moving my CGEM outside in this manner.

Third light follows:

Last night (Tuesday 8th of May), I set up in Dual OTA mode. For this I used the 8 inch SCT and my SV102ED 4" refractor. 14 and 11 pounds respectively. I chose to use option 2 (compass north) for alignment based on my experience from the night before. The mount performed well as expected, but there really isn't a way to adjust the secondary dovetail to match the main OTA. I searched the manual for a solution, but it only says to loosen and rotate the secondary OTA so it is aligned on the same object. My offset was in azimuth not altitude. I had to slew off center to get the object to appear on the edge of the refractor. I used the supplied 26mm for the 8" and a Celestron Xcel 9mm in the refractor, both giving 78x magnification. I made some adjustment to the secondary OTA by placing some thin cardboard under the focuser side of the refractor's vixen dovetail. Objects were then within the FOV of both telescopes. I'm sure there is another solution, but for now this will work.

When I first ordered the LX80 mount, I wanted it for astrophotography. I returned the mount to Polar mode. Remember from before, I had to select Polar mode in setup > Telescope > LX80 Polar, then cycle power for the mount to react properly. I did try to just switch and realign, but, like before, the mount didn't respond correctly without the power cycle. Polar alignment was the closest I'd been so far. After alignment "The pole is: 14'^ 1'< was displayed. Happy with that I pressed on. Removed the visual back, attached my adapters and camera in prime focus. As I started AP with my LS-8, I constructed a bahtinov mask from cardboard that works quite well for achieving fine focus. I took several pictures starting with M13, which was fairly low in the East, just above the neighbor's house. I was not happy with how they turned out. Even 15 seconds I could see trailing. I really need to read up on Drift alignment and it's operation. I decided to re-balance since I forgot to do that after switching equipment. Under utilities, park scope, maintains alignment after shutting down power. Restart only asks for date and time. After balancing, it was obvious I didn't return the axes back to their original location. Gotos were off. Power cycle and realign. This time camera attached and used in alignment. To my surprise the hand control responds "mount is <5' from the pole". Getting better? Luck? I've included a 60 second exposure of M13. Not impressed with it, but not as bad as some of the 15 second exposures I did. I think my camera mirror lock was on or some other vibration was induced from the shutter moving, which caused issues with my exposures. Guiding solution is in the works; more to come on that when able. I have a 315 second exposure (prior to rebalance) too that might help a more seasoned AP'er zero in on drive induced anomalies. I didn't do one after the rebalance, though.

In regards to the parts issue when I first received the mount, I'm happy to report that all replacement parts arrived from Meade Instruments last evening. The parts are installed and everything is back to 100%. I'll give Kudos here to Oceanside Photo and Telescope for taking immediate action to "get the ball rolling" and to Meade Instruments for resolving the issue without hesitation. Completely satisfied with how everything was handled and very happy with the end result.

Here's a link to my Flickr page. All pictures that I've taken are posted there. And here's a link to an audio recording of the mount slewing.

My apologies to the forum for not posting this sooner.

Tom Mohr
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#10 astroshepy

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 06:05 PM

Great review Tom,
I know They dont list a holder for the handbox in the manual but on the Meade website click on products then LX80 and it shows 3 LX80 mounts with scopes on them. All 3 have the handbox hanging or attached to the head of the mount somehow. Also in the pictures on top left of pages 6, 7, 15, and 31 of the instruction manual I downloaded from the Meade site shows the handbox attached to the front of the mount. It would be real nice to have a holder up high like that. Or some kind of hooks on the back of the handbox to hang it on the handles. I used heavy duty velcro on the legs of my LX200ACF 10". It normally comes with a holder but it wasnt in the box so I just used Walmart heavy duty velcro, and after my handbox got accidently knocked off by other viewers several times it was damaged and quit working and I had to purchase a new one even though this one was new. I think a new controller for the LX80 is about $135.00. Velcro might be fine for some people and yours might not ever get knocked off but mine did several times and I dont want to buy another replacement handbox. My intention here was to let Meade know that they showed the mount with the handbox held in place and that there is a need for some kind of holder like they have on most of their other telescope mounts. And almost every mount they sell on their website comes with a holder for the handbox and this mount needs one just as bad as those did. They come with actual holders and its not velcro. Maybe they could use one from one of their other mounts. But It would be greatly appreciated if they would include or offer one.
Tom your pictures are great and your review has a lot of details that show this is going to be a great mount. I Know that I will be very happy when mine finally gets here and that it was well worth the wait. Thanks
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#11 tmohr36

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 08:28 PM

ah ha, a problem I hadn't considered and I'll admit I've bumped it several times nearly knocking the HC to the ground. I had originally thought of making a hook-type holder and I really like that idea of it being stored higher. I took a look at those pages you discussed above. Sure does look like there would be one included with the mount...deceiving in a way...

I'll keep pasting my review here for everyone that visits and has an interest.

Tom Mohr
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#12 AtTheEyepiece

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:02 PM

Looking forward to more reports, but thanks for sharing what you have so far. I'm especially interested in AP work with the LX80 as well. Did you get the optional autoguider port?

John

#13 tmohr36

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 09:49 PM

Hi John, WOW!, you seem to find me everywhere I post.

I did not get the autoguider port, but it will be the next thing on my list once it becomes available (or is it available?). I've tried all the ASCOM drivers out there with my current guiding setup and nothing seems to work properly. I'll get good RA swings around the Zero line, but DEC is too erratic (huge jumps above and below zero line, maybe I should turn off dec guiding?). I just received an SSAG to try my hand at that. My CGEM works perfectly with it, both via ASCOM driver and RS232 and with the on camera ST-4 port to CGEM autoguide port. I'm hoping I can make the LX80 perform as well, but time will tell.

@everyone else: I've placed more pictures up on my flickr page and a couple time lapses on my youtube page (links are in a post above), for anyone interested.

Like I've said many places across the internet, I'm quite happy with the LX80 and 4 + hours tracking the sun during the Venus transit, with minor adjustments every 20 to 30 minutes to keep it centered at 50x magnification is just fine by me. I only pointed the mount roughly true north, entered new location and verified the time, and accepted the easy alignment stars (couldn't see them anyway). Slew to Venus and lined up with the sun. Quite happy with that indeed.

Tom Mohr

#14 pastordad

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:44 PM

Hey! Wondering if you had an update to your wonderfully detailed post. Were you able to get the autoguiding to work? Any issues with focusing?





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