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LX80 ports and Orion Starshoot Autoguider - frustrations


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#1 twilightmoons

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 04:22 AM

After getting my LX80 back from repair, I started to try some astrophotography. I got the Orion SSAG and my old off-axis guider. After working out issues with getting the focus right on both the SSAG and my DSLR, I figured out that there wasn't enough light going through my TeleVue 101 for the pick-off prism to see much. Finding a star in the field of view with the SSAG was a pain. Instead, I got the Orion 70mm "build a finder" scope, and mounted it on the scope.

I have the autoguider port accessory for the LX80.

I have the SSAG on a guidescope.

I have a laptop running the latest ASCOM platform and Meade drivers.

I have tried the PHD 1.11 version and the newer 1.12 version, Guidescope and Guidedog, and none can control the mount.

I've tried:

1. SSAG on guidescope, control cable connected to AUX1 - no tracking.

2. SSAG on guidescope, control cable connected to AUX2 - no tracking.

3. SSAG on guidescope, control cable connected to RJ-11 port on handset - no tracking.

4. SSAG on guidescope, no control cable, using serial cable from PC to AUX1 and ASCOM drivers - no tracking.

5. SSAG on guidescope, no control cable, using serial cable from PC to AUX2 and ASCOM drivers - no tracking.

6. SSAG on guidescope, no control cable, using serial cable from PC to RJ-11 port on handset and ASCOM drivers - no tracking.

I've even tried the manual tracking, and I don't get any results in moving the mount at all! I've tried a few other programs for autoguiding, and they don't even see the SSAG as a camera... which is annoying. Their manual tracking doesn't work, either - I started PDH to see what the camera sees, but did not connect with the ASCOM drivers. Instead, I used GuideDog and Guidescope to connect to the mount and try to move it manually... and had the same result.

I know the ASCOM drivers work, because when I run Starry Night Pro and connect to the mount through the handset, I can slew and get position info from the mount all night long.

Also - the moment I try and start "tracking" in PHD, the mount stops tracking at all, and doesn't move anymore. I can see the stars drift across the field of view of the SSAG, and nothing will stop them.

So... what's going on? It doesn't look like a camera issue, and it doesn't necessarily look like a software issue. If I can't get multiple pieces of autoguider software to work with it, but can get Starry NIght to work, what does that mean? Is the autoguider port really working, or not?

I've spent two nights at my dark site trying to work this out, and gave up. I've spent the last two nights in the backyard until late, getting more frustrated and annoying my wife, who doesn't sleep well if she can't cuddle. She loves this hobby as well, and this mount was her birthday gift to me last year. She feels pretty bad that it doesn't seem to be all it was advertised to be.

#2 d33d0gg

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 11:38 AM

It kind of seems that the mount isnt receiving the commands... maybe it is a port issue. My first step would be to give Meade a call ( (800) 626-3233 ) and have a quick discussion with them about the autoguider port accesory that you purchased.

Daniel
--------
LX200GPS 12"

LX80
ETX90


#3 Jokehoba

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 12:58 PM

I do not think it is a port issue, as communication to the mount via the dongle and via ASCOM are two different connection methods.

I share twilightmoons frustrations in this regard. I have owned my LX80 for 9 months and have never been able to get it to guide. I suffer exactly the same behaviour sited here...as soon as the guide software kicks in the mount appears to stop tracking. I have tried PHD and EQ Align.

I have posted detail on another thread but I suspect that one has gone stale. The thread originator started it many months ago and there have no resolutions posted. Come on Meade...

Every opportunity since February I have been out, trying to get long exposures. I have lost count of the hours of frustration. I could just about manage 15sec subs. But knowing that people manage several minutes unguided, I wanted better. At first it would not align properly and I tried all manner of methods, procedures and software to get it polar aligned accurately. Eventually I stumbled across the alignment problem, thanks to a video tutorial on http://www.astronomyshed.co.uk. It was cone error and the OTA was way out of true. Once this was corrected I could get up to a minute unguided. But as soon as I enabled PHD everything trailed until I turned it off and tracking resumed.

I have the SSAG, the 50mm guide scope and the APM dongle. I have tried SSAG via APM to mount - no guiding. SSAG via ASCOM to handbox - no guiding. I suspected the SSAG but using ASCOM rules that out.

Just this week I read http://www.stark-lab...torials:phd:faq, in the section on Mounts, that if using the Meade LXxxx ASCOM driver, make sure the 'Auto Unpark/Track' checkbox is ticked. For it explains: "This will prevent the LX200GPS from switching from astronomical to terrestrial target mode and the resulting stoppage in tracking." This seems to suggest it would resolve the issue.

However, I tried this tonight and still no guiding.

I really am fed up with the LX80. It is good for visual use but no good for photography.

It would be good to hear from anyone who has managed to get it guiding and who will share how and with what kit.

And please, Meade start answering these forum posts. The LX80 was my first Meade telescope/mount. At this rate, it will also be my last. I am very disappointed. I agree with twilightmoons, it doesn't seem to be all it was advertised to be.

#4 twilightmoons

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 05:35 AM

Well, I went out once more last night. Until I can get a fix, I think I'm done with messing around with this mount. 8+ wasted hours in the past week is just too much to get something to work that should be working right out of the box.

No luck - no application other than Starry Night and Meade's Autostar suite is moving the mount. I tried several with the same ASCOM drivers, and had no luck using the "bump" commands to move the mount "X" degrees. Starry Night had no problems, but PHD, and the rest failed.

I tried the cable from the SSAG connected to Aux1 again - failed. Aux2 - failed. RJ-11 on the handset - failed.

Using the RS-232 from the laptop to either Aux port didn't make a connection with the ASCOM drivers.

I tried the "auto unpark./track" setting, and it didn't work, either.

I did notice that if I had the SSAG plugged in and powered, but the mount was unplugged from power and had no batteries and was toggled to "off", the red LED on the mount did light up if the control cable from the SSAG was plugged into either Aux port... Not sure what that means, other than the ports aren't "dead."

I'm tired of fighting this. If I can't get this working, then the value of this mount just dropped by more than half for me. The alt/az I used really only for star parties, when I need quick setup and ease of use for visual observation and tracking. For myself, for photography, the GEM mode is what really motivated me to get this. I was really excited about the features, but now... I don't know. I'll call Meade up later today and ask about this.

I've spent more money and time on something that plain doesn't work than I care to think about. Each little bit has been a "fix" that shouldn't have been needed in the first place.

Mount: $950
AC power: $60 (not included - why?)
DC power: $30 (not included - why?)
DC battery: $125
SSAG: $250
OAG extention rigs: $40
70mm finder + 1.25" extention: $125
Dovetail for the TV clamshell: $40

Seems like I have to keep buying stuff to make up for some limitation.

While I love the idea of the mount, the execution just isn't what I expected.

#5 gspie

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 05:46 AM

Meade support doesn't respond on this forum as a rule. They are very responsive if you call the customer support line.
LX850 with 10" ACF OTA and Takahashi FS 60C OTA -- SBIG STT-8300M CCD with FW8G-STT Self Guiding Filter Wheel and SBIG AO-8 Adaptive Optics -- Camera Control and Image Calibration with Maxim DL/CCD Pro, Image processing with PixInsight, and final composition with Photoshop CS5

http://home.comcast....ie/astroweb.htm

#6 pastordad

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 09:34 AM

Sorry for your woes, let us know how it turns out. I was considering this mount for AP, but I'm reconsidering and thinking maybe better off saving for the 200 or 600...

#7 d33d0gg

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 06:27 PM

From my understanding, they are replacing this mount for a better version in the near future!

Daniel
--------
LX200GPS 12"

LX80
ETX90


#8 Jokehoba

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 06:09 AM

While I have not as yet contacted Meade Customer Support (I live in the UK and I am not certain the 'freefone' number would be free from outside the States), I have spoken to the UK distributor for Meade products. I have been told that they (the distributor) do not recommend the LX80 for astrophotography. It seems that Meade very quickly realised that this mount would not auto-guide and presumably there are issues trying to fix it. My understanding, like Daniel, is that Meade are replacing the mount, but also that there is no development underway to resolve the problems with the current model.

This is no comfort to those of us who have purchased an LX80 hoping to venture into auto-guided astrophotography. I am very disappointed in Meade.

The good news is that I bought a second-hand Skywatcher NEQ6 last week. A few days ago I tried it out. I was able to polar align it in minutes and within half an hour (thanks to EQMOD) I was producing 5min auto-guided subs. I am sure I could have pressed it further. How did Meade get it so wrong with the LX80?

#9 d33d0gg

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 07:31 AM

I did read somewhere, I believe cloudy nights, that previous owners will be allowed to trade in their lx80s for the new version. This is 100% hearsay, but if it does pan out, maybe a viable option. Depends on the credit for current mount owners etc, and depends if true lol.

Daniel
--------
LX200GPS 12"

LX80
ETX90





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