Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

Welcome to Stargazers Lounge

Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to contribute to this site by submitting your own content or replying to existing content. You'll be able to customise your profile, receive reputation points as a reward for submitting content, while also communicating with other members via your own private inbox, plus much more! This message will be removed once you have signed in.

  • Announcements

    sgl_imaging_challenge_banner_30_second_exp.jpg

ollypenrice

Meade LX200 14 inch GPS

41 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

I've never been unreservedly keen on SCTs. They give large aperture from small volume, make great solar system imaging scopes, are very comfortable to use visually in Alt Az mode and have tended to give me eyepiece views which had the information but not, for me, the engaging thrill of being out in space. Somehow the stars weren't really pinpoint tiny and the backgrounds weren't as dark as I'd have liked. It's hard to explain but this opinion grew while I owned first an 8 inch and then a 10 inch Meade. (It wasn't down to collimation, which is easy to get right on an SCT.)  I've been very impressed by the only C11 I've tried, though. Anyway, rightly or wrongly it was was these expectations that I spent my first observng night with the 14 LX200 GPS kindly bequeathed to us by Alan Longstaff. I was in for a very big surprise...

5950c071412ac_scopeonpierWEB.thumb.jpg.81524a0023cfad2cea400bfaa18b904a.jpg

GPS and Go To. 

With the control panel on the south side (not the north as shown in the picture!) you set the tube to horizontal and pointing north, then ask the mount to align automatically. It performs an assortment of gyrations, twists and tilts to orientate itself before heading off to a star named in the handset. The first was Arcturus, which it missed by about 15 degrees. You centre this in the EP and confirm, whereupon it coffee-grinds its way over to a second star, Dubhe this time. It was in the EP. Encouraging. And that's it, you are now supposedly aligned. There is no need to set time, date or location since all come from the GPS.

Jupiter was up so we performed a GoTo and the planet was just out of the EP (a 26mm TeleVue Nagler giving 135x.) Not bad but not ideal for a complete beginner had the target been an obscure DSO. 'Going To' Saturn produced the same 'near but not quite' result. However, when we asked it to go to M22 it ground more coffee and, bang, there it was smack in the middle of the EP. And this remarkable precision on DSOs continued throughout the night and all over the sky. All present were mightily impressed. I suppose there is some minor glitch in the planetary ephemeris but it won't be a priority to sort it out since it's easy to find and centre the planets anyway.

The views.

I was knocked out. Tiny, tiny stars against the darkest of backgrounds. (We were SQM21.6 last night.) The Nagler allows, nay requires, you to move your head to find the field stop. The superb stellar quality was maintained edge to edge. The views were not just informative, they were beautiful. A favourite was M24, the Sagittarius Star Cloud. This was too big for the FOV, naturally, but cruising within it we found clusters within clusters and, notably, some lovely powdery patches of minute stars which I don't recall seeing before. This is the kind of view I love.

M51 wasn't perfectly placed but showed spiral structure, 'the bridge of light' and a satisfying scale and brightness at 135x. In fact we just left the 26 Nagler in all night, after quitting the planets.

M27 was very dumb-bell shaped, the central star was just visble in averted vision for me and, again, the scale and brightness were very rewarding. There was nothing of the 'fuzzy blob' about it!

The FOV is limiting with a 3.5 metre focal length but the sky is not short of targets at this magnification if you have the aperture to support it.

This and that.

Because we couldn't get the electronic focuser to work we were obliged to use the moving mirror focuser. It was OK, but has the well known backlash. Best to make your final focus a push of the mirror against gravity. Image shift was very slight and there's a mirror lock available.

We have the electronic focuser which seems to be a motorized Crayford, but its cable collides with the fork mount! (I've been seeking advice on this on another thread.) An alternative focusing socket on the fork higher up, and not mentioned in the manual, doesn't work.

5950ca5ba0a41_focusecable.jpg.8ab15a0baaf2651656f9e459bc73e460.jpg

 

One way or another we'll sort this out.

Grinding coffee. The scope is loud when on the move. We don't have neighbours nearby and Alan was two miles from the next house in Shropshire, but if you observe from an overlooked suburban garden the noise might very easily be an issue.

Stability. The tube is held stiffly in altitude but has quite a lot of elasticity in azimuth. This seems to have diminshed since we began running the scope a few nights ago and is not an issue for observing. I wouldn't want to try DS imaging without much more stiffness in the RA drive, but we have no DS imaging plans for this instrument. We want to let it do what it's good at.

Conclusion.

Because this scope was Alan's and was a gift from him I really wanted to like it. Happily, I do like it. In fact love it and can't wait to get out there with a long shopping list of targets. The views are just what I want telescope views to be and the excellent GoTo makes for an enjoyable evening's observing. A beginner can sit down at the scope with a list of objects and set off with no need of help from anyone else. OK, the FL is long and somewhat restricive but the aperture compensates for that by supporting high magnification. With a Telrad on top (not seen in the picture) a beginner can see where the scope is pointing and pick up a pair of binoculars to take a different kind of look at the same part of the sky.

That scruffy roll off in the background has now been re-clad in respectable marine ply and is awaiting a brass plaque identifying the scope simply as The Alan Longstaff Telescope.

Olly

PS The Wild Duck Cluster was Alan's favourite and it really was lovely in his scope. Its improbably geometric shape was shown to advantage by the smallness and brightness of its stars. I always think it looks like a distant space station. Wonderful. Roll on the coming of night.

 

 

 

Edited by ollypenrice
Correcting RA and Dec into Alt and Az.
13 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

That doesn't look like the original focuser cable...is it hard wired into the focuser ??if not there are much smaller jack to jack cables with smaller right angle 5mm jack plugs available.... :)

Edited by LightBucket
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review!

I used the 12" meade on a HD wedge for a few years. It was fitted with both the Meade Crayford and the JMI (mirror move) focuser. I had a dual hand controller (from the MAPUG site design) which worked very well for me. Balancing was an issue, so I replaced the Dec nylon bearings with needle bearings and rigged up independent balancing on the Dec and RA.

For spectroscopy it worked very well.....

The larger spectroscopes didn't fit behind the forks, so in the end I changed to the C11 on an NEQ6pro.

I'd say "when they are good, they are very very good, when they are bad they are a PITA"

 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, LightBucket said:

That doesn't look like the original focuser cable...is it hard wired into the focuser ??if not there are much smaller jack to jack cables with smaller right angle 5mm jack plugs available.... :)

I strongly suspect it's original but, as you say, it should be possible to find an alternative plug.

Olly

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like you I've been underwhelmed by one SCT and elated by others, especially the Edge HD. The compact aperture and comfort are both such attractive features that it's worth the lottery to find a good one. I'm glad you have a really good one for everyone there to enjoy. A very enjoyable review :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice one Olly. Your report, coming from a confirmed "sceptic" nicely endorses this particular telescope, Alan would have been delighted. The optics of recent SCT's seem to be well sorted in manufacture and reliable in performance, however the good performance is fragile, it doesn't take much in the way of collimation error or unsuitable seeing conditions to let them down. Fortunately, collimation is easy and good seeing is just a matter of patience.   :icon_biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ollypenrice said:

I strongly suspect it's original but, as you say, it should be possible to find an alternative plug.

Olly

I have owned three of the Meade Zero Image Shift focusers and none of the plugs have ever looked like that, hence why I asked whether it was origional....but I guess it could well be, but easy to change...... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing that you probably already know but just in case, if you use the park option buried in the menu when you finish observing then you can just fire it up next time and GoTo an object and skip the aligning bit.

Dave

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice report Olly. Glad you are enjoying the scope. I have been an SCT man for a long time, so don't need convincing I really want to get a C14 (alongside my C8, NOT as a replacement). Only the missus might need some convincing ;)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, LightBucket said:

That doesn't look like the original focuser cable...is it hard wired into the focuser ??if not there are much smaller jack to jack cables with smaller right angle 5mm jack plugs available.... :)

I'd agree that it does not look like the original jack.  If you google images for "LX200 GPS Panel" and also for "Meade 1209 electric focuser", images show a significantly smaller jack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

I strongly suspect it's original but, as you say, it should be possible to find an alternative plug.

How many terminals are there on the plug, Olly?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, steppenwolf said:

How many terminals are there on the plug, Olly?

I think there are just two Steve.

Olly

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

I think there are just two Steve.

Olly

I'm pretty sure it's 3.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like there it may be a stereo plug with three connections - the shaft near the plug casing, a centre connection in the shaft and the tip?

plug_olly.png.e5b17b5bdb860d1f4b1c5aa9befe1440.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Olly, I could make you up a small extension cable with a lower profile right angle plug and an in-line socket. What diameter is the plug shaft? I suspect that it is 3.5mm?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

 

42 minutes ago, steppenwolf said:

Olly, I could make you up a small extension cable with a lower profile right angle plug and an in-line socket. What diameter is the plug shaft? I suspect that it is 3.5mm?

It is three contacts, sorry.  It's 3.5mm in diameter and 14mm deep. If you could it would be fantastic, Steve, but only if you've time.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, steppenwolf said:

It looks like there it may be a stereo plug with three connections - the shaft near the plug casing, a centre connection in the shaft and the tip?

plug_olly.png.e5b17b5bdb860d1f4b1c5aa9befe1440.png

Like that, yes.

Olly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And this (your report) explains why I have laid out the money for 2 of these Meade LX90-LX200-series beasts! !2" though. A 14" would land me in traction from trying to heft those monsters!

You may find some good info & improvements from here:

http://www.petersonengineering.com/

There are shops local to you which carry these goodies.

Peterson-Equipped,

Dave

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

If you could it would be fantastic, Steve, but only if you've time.

Sorted, you shall have it early next week!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, steppenwolf said:

Sorted, you shall have it early next week!

And you shall have my hearitest thanks!

Olly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

..... and here she is:-

olly_plugs.png.7674116b205d2e231ff93262630a5a03.png

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, steppenwolf said:

..... and here she is:-

olly_plugs.png.7674116b205d2e231ff93262630a5a03.png

A thing of beauty is a joy forever! Warmest thanks, Steve.

Olly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Quick fix on the connection. Those things have a huge amount of plastic around them. I would consider filling the top corner off a bit so it clears the forks.

Although steppenwolf's lead looks the dogs....

Edited by spillage

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

The collision is worse than it looks in the picture.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Olly, a very  enjoyable review, and what a nicely engineered solution to the plug problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.