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Meade LXD55 10" SN UHTC

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Last December, after saving up for a long long time, I finally decided to buy a telescope. I had decided that this telescope would be one that would have to do me for many years and that I wasn't going to buy a scope that I thought I would have to upgrade in a couple of years. So I was looking for a good all round scope, with plenty of aperture, motors, and preferably a goto system. After looking at what was on the market, the Meade LXD55 was by far the best value scope on the market; a 10" diameter, dual axis drives, autostar, UHTC, and a £99 eyepiece set. After finding a shop in the UK that had one in stock, I ordered it and it arrived a couple of days later.

The scope comes in two big boxes. One contains the scope and two counterweights, and the other contains the mount, the other counterweight, the autostar and other bits and pieces.

The scope itself is a Schmidt-Newtonian design. This is very like your standard Newtonian scope except to compensate for the relatively short focal length, 1016mm, there is a Schmidt corrector plate. This does however make the scope quite heavy, requiring 30lbs of counterweights. The short focal length however does mean that the scope is reasonably portable, I can easily pack it up put it on the car and drive down to Wicklow to dark skies, and I have a small car.

The mount is just about able to support the 10" scope with the counterweights, though its noticeably shaky with even a light breeze. However once you remove the Teflon washers from the mount and make sure everything is tight you can improve this. Even so, it takes the scope a few seconds to settle down after touching it, which can make focusing tedious, and its very hard to get it steady to take pictures through with the added weight of a digital camera sticking off one end! It also comes with an illuminated polar scope, which when I work out how to use it properly I'm sure will be better than trying to align with the autostar.

First Light.

Setting it up the first night was fairly straightforward. All the bits fit together as the manual describes. You are told to set the polar scope pointing roughly northwards and to do an easy align. This very rarely works, and when it does isn't very accurate. There are other methods of polar alignment which are much better: proper alignment with the polar scope, or one-star align in the autostar being the two best that I've found. Things went well until the autostar went dead, after checking with some folks online the problem was diagnosed as a bad connector on the autostar unit, this was replaced quickly by the dealer in the UK, an elastic band holding the cable in place did the trick until the replacement arrived!

You get a 26mm eyepiece with the scope, and through it the optics appeared to be well collimated. And the 10" aperture provided lots of stars. The tracking with this eyepiece appeared to be ok also, but then again its not very high magnification.

I did notice two things about the Schmidt plate. Firstly dew falls quite quickly on these plates so some sort of dew guard would be needed. And secondly the coatings were like glue to dust particles, gently bushing and blowing does not dislodge it, its not enough to even contemplate cleaning it though.

Whirrr....

One night the scope was slewing away to some target or other when it stopped moving in the RA axis. There was still whirring from the motor but no movement. An inspection showed that one of the aluminium(!) gears had come off its shaft. After chatting to folks online again, I decided it might be worth to take both motors off and check for any play in them. It turned out that nearly all the cogs were loose and the gears themselves needed to be tweaked to remove the `slop` in them. It wasnt a complicated job, but one that requires a bit of time and patience. And needless to say it wasnt described in the manual.

Once the extra eyepieces arrived I was able to collimate the optics reasonably well. Though the scope does need to cool down for an hour or so before you do high powered observing, I was surprised by how much better the image was after this cooling period.

Conclusion

This scope wins the value for money competition. You get a 10" scope with a solid enough month dual axis drives and the goto handheld for more than half of the price of Meades LX200. Though its not as good as the LX200, so if you need a scope like that, this budget version wont be enough for you. The LXD55 is part of Meads introductory range remember! However if you are thinking of getting say the 9.25 Celestron SCT or the LX90 you probably should consider this scope also.

The scope can involve quite a bit of work. I think you can expect to have to learn how to put the drives back together and how to tweak bits of the scope and mount. You will also need to experiment with the autostar and polar alignment a fair bit to get to grips with how to get accurate goto's and accurate tracking.

Technical details on the telescope are available from Meades website www.meade.com.

The LXD55telescopes user group on yahoo, is the definitive place for users and potential users of this scope. A great resource. groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/

I also hope to keep my own website up do date (yea Ive been saying that for years I know!) with any notes I have on this scope. www.cademuir.net/astro

Feel free to reply with any questions!
19 years 8 months ago #86

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