Prelude (before delivery)

OK, Meade, I’m ready for a look at the new mount! No ship date yet, though I was told to expect shipment by the end of the month and that sounds likely. It’s been a very long time since I ordered a not-yet-shipping product and had to wait. Previous examples include the 14″ LX200GPS (pre-ordered the day it was announced) and the CGE (pre-ordered shortly after it was announced). In those cases, of course, the wait was many months but that which arrived worked perfectly and was worth the patience. In this case, with product definitely being shipped, the delay should be much less. I’m more concerned about how well it will work. I plan to run it through its paces and derive a pretty solid picture of its performance. I’ve lost count of the EQ mounts that have been in my observatory, but there have been enough to give me a good idea of what to look for.


It’s an odd choice for me to make in a mount, I know. I’ve used and enjoyed three Takahashi mounts so it will have to be pretty good if I am to be satisfied. The most distinctive features are of very limited value to me as I already do plate solves for precise positioning and use an off-axis guider. Starlock won’t give me any new capabilities and any assistance in star alignment won’t matter because I pretty much never re-align. I’m more intrigued by the things folks aren’t talking about, such as the home switches and the internal cable run. The most significant feature to me is that is new and different. I’ve always enjoyed an opportunity to test and report on a new item that most folks haven’t seen yet.


I’m also waiting for the date I start telling folks about the decision to acquire this mount and about this blog. With nothing to report, it seems that it is now too early. My ideal would be to wait until I can post photos of the mount as installed in Urban Observatory but I probably don’t have that much patience.  I’ll more likely wait until there are a significant number of folks reporting on the receipt and testing (whether successful or unsuccessful) of their LX800 replacements. That way there’ll be something for folks to talk about besides telling me how silly I am to take a chance on this mount after the initial rollout failure. Once I announce the decision on Cloudy Nights I’ll add a link to this blog in my sigline and that should lead interested folks here.


I’ve been seeing reports from folks who have been notified that their replacements for returned LX800 models are being shipped. At least one 10″ combo arrived yesterday, and underwent first light last night. An image from that session is proffered here:


I find that very encouraging!


No ship date for my mount yet. I’ll be tearing the existing mount down this week/weekend so I’ll be ready.

As long as I’ve been reading the astro discussion boards, (beginning, in my case, with S.A.A. back in the day) there have been plenty of folks who love to hate Meade. I’ve owned some Meade gear but have no loyalty to any manufacturer. I’ve owned at least as much Celestron gear as Meade, and more Takahashi gear than either of those – plus a sampling from many other vendors. There are brands that I will probably never own because I don’t like them, but I don’t waste my time posting about how much I don’t like them or trying to make them appear worse than they are.


Of course, with the RCX fiasco and now the LX800 and LX80 releases Meade has left itself open to much strong criticism and some of it is justified. On the other hand, even when they do something right, as in updating the LX800 models to an improved LX850, the griping isn’t reduced.  I’ve seen it stated many times that the LX800 is a clone of the much smaller and lighter Mach 1 and therefore can’t carry as much. I do have a suggestion as to a source of that confusion – looking at separate photos there’s no relative scale. The Mach1 has a skinny 1.125″ CW shaft, while the LX850 has a shaft of 1.75″.  If photos are framed so the CW shafts appear similar, the LX850 will appear to be a similar size. Maybe that is what folks are seeing.

The new mounts are shipping now – first the replacements for the returned LX800 models, then pre-orders, and then new orders. I look forward to seeing some actual reports from users and, perhaps, less unfounded speculation by those with an axe to grind.

This is intended to document my future experiences with Meade’s LX850 mount. The endless negativity posted by non-users around the Net finally aroused my underdog-supporting character so I will acquire one. If it is a disaster, then it’ll be my disaster – and I’ll report on it honestly, here and elsewhere. If it’s a success then I will talk about that so folks may see some favorable reports amid the noise. Either way, I intend and expect to have some fun (this IS a hobby – remember?).


I have some experience with equatorial mounts, and with imaging. My observatory went online in 2003 and I’ve had many EQ mounts in there over the years, including Takahashi’s EM-200 and NJP – so I think I know what should be expected of such equipment. Lots of cameras, too – ST-8, ST-10, ST-2000, STL-11000, QSI583 and QSI683. I know what is required to capture images.


Once I am set up, I intend to show images captured using this mount and a 50 pound Astrotech AT12RC at 2400mm and a QSI683 at 5.4 micron pixels (which is what is currently astride the Tak NJP). If the mount can handle that, I will call it a success. Some will call it folly to swap out an NJP for this midrange-class mount, but it sounds like fun to me. It has been years since I had an opportunity to evaluate a brand-new piece of gear that not too many have seen and used.


SO – it’ll be a few weeks until the thing arrives, and then (after a quick checkout in the dining room) it’ll have to be mounted in the observatory and cabling, power supply, and other such issues resolved. Then it’ll be a matter of waiting for decent weather here in NE Ohio, sorting out any installation issues, and beginning this project.