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Any news on LX90? And other DIY musings.

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  • Wayne Powell (AeroWood)
    Just wondering if anyone has heard of or has an ETA on the LX90? My dealer (here in Canada) doesn t expect the first shipment to arrive until October. In the
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 13, 2000
      Just wondering if anyone has heard of or has an ETA on the LX90?  My dealer (here in Canada) doesn't expect the first shipment to arrive until October.
       
      In the meantime I'm still happily using my Nexstar 5 (which is being traded in when the LX90 arrives).
       
      I'm finding that a GOTO scope is making me lazy, that is, I used to spend a lot more time exploring and learning a region by naked eye, binoculars and star-hopping before zeroing in on a selected target.  Now, punch a few coordinates, align, select a target and boom there it is (if the seeing is good).  I will admit, however, that I've been able to "find" and see a lot more targets than I ever have before. I just wish that the planets were more visible this summer, when surrounded by visitors and the family crowd it's a little disheartening to have to say "now that little fuzzy blob in the centre is Andromeda".  Visitors don't get the benefit of extended and repeated viewing which improves one's "mind's eye" resolution of obscure objects over time.
       
      One thing I did to combat this was to build a home made video camera (so I could share views of the planets, sun and moon with bystanders).  Basically I took a miniature "spy" ccd camera (about $125) and mounted it in a small project box with a 1.25 eyepiece filter ring (cheap one with the filter glass removed) in front to attach a 1.25 extension tube so I can mount it at the rear of the OTA (or in the eyepiece holder) and project onto the ccd (with the camera's lense removed).  It works admirably as far as I've tested, but admittedly, because I have to lug a television set out to my observing spots, it hasn't gotten enough use.  I'm experimenting with improving it's sensitivity (removed - ok broke - the camera's IR filter) by using filters that improve the infrared sensitivity (which the cameras are particularly sensitive to).  Hopefully, at some point this fall, I will record some images to videotape and capture some for the web. 
       
      By keeping the camera's own lense in, eyepiece projection is also possible.  Sears sells a generic Digital Camera Adapter (for about $80 Canadian) for telescopes that I picked up for this purpose.  It's not the most precisely engineered gizmo I have but it works (attaches by clamp to the eyepiece holder). 
       
      Ultimately I am going on a theory proposed by someone (sources of which I've forgotten) who suggested that by taking real-time video sequences of DSO's, then selecting multiple frames of "good seeing" and using astro stacking software to align and improve image resolution and contrast.
       
      Some other items that I've "engineered" that have come in handy. 
       
      A focusing aid.  Basically a large plastic coffee can lid, with a stiff non-corrugated cardboard insert for support, and an inner ring of closed cell foam strip (to hold it to the OTA front).  Three 1" diam. holes are cut in the lid (outside the position of the OTA's central obstruction).  It projects three images into the eyepiece which when focussed come together as one.  It works surprisingly well, but I expect a commercial one would be more precise.
       
      Anti-vibration pads.  A Home Depot Special.  For about $10 you can get rubber sink stoppers and furniture leg cups (what are these called? it's like a shallow rubber cup that protects the carpet from furniture leg damage) that fit together almost perfectly creating an almost hermetically sealed rubber and air cushion for the tripod legs.  I'm experimenting with two versions, in the first I cut through the tops of the stoppers to form an indent for the tripod legs to sit on.  The second I will not cut all the way through the stoppers and therefore there will be an air cushion trapped between the stopper and the furniture cups.   They work so well that on a wooden deck this summer, only the heaviest of footfalls made their way through as visible vibrations, and dampening of the scopes vibrations were improved by a factor of about 2.
       
      Now that I'm getting prepared for Fall/Winter and the arrival of the new scope, I started thinking about a portable shelter/observatory for my scope (it gets cold here in Canada).  After researching the availability and price of astronomy tents, I found that the ones sold by Kendrik (right here in Ontario) are probably the best bet.  At first I considered them expensive, but in searching for a cheap alternative to modify, similar tents are getting harder to find as the major brands have all moved to dome designs.   Alas, Sears may have come to my rescue again.  I just ordered their 4 - Person Ice Fishing Shelter (6' x 8') by Hillary ($180 Canadian).  It's made of a black waterproof nylon material, perfect for hiding me from the neighbour's porch light.  Now I have to modify it so it has flaps on three sides to poke the scope through.  There still will be obstructions near Zenith and four corners, but that's the trade off.  I expect to use velcro instead of zippers, but I'll let everyone know how the experiment turns out once I've finished re-engineering the tent.  Also, I suspect that a black tent could get rather warm if left up in the daylight during warmer weather.  I'll probably make a cheap fly from mylar material (emergency blankets) to put over the observatory tent during the day to reflect away the heat.  Now that's going to look really odd sitting in my back yard!
       
      Wayne Powell
      Meade LX-90 eGroup [http://www.egroups.com/group/lx90]
    • Robert S. Greenstein, Esq.
      Hi Wayne! There seems to be lots of turbulence and poor seeing regarding the LX90 s availability date. Amongst the various purported release dates I ve heard,
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 13, 2000
        Hi Wayne!

        There seems to be lots of turbulence and poor seeing regarding the
        LX90's availability date. Amongst the various purported release
        dates I've heard, the soonest is September 20, with October and
        November also claimed by several "in the know" vendors. Not even
        Meade's technical support people have any clear idea of when the
        units will be available, and although I've had conversations with
        four of them about LX200 and their ED Refractor models (in the past
        week or so), none have yet even seen any sub-assemblies nor portions
        of an LX90. It makes one wonder???

        Although I'm very intrigued by the forthcoming LX90 with it's
        siginificantly upgraded Autostar system, LX200 Tripod and same
        8" OTA as the 8" LX200, I'm strongly looking at the LX200 models for
        their added durability and weight bearing capacity for heavier 2"
        eyepieces, 2" Diagonal, and JMI's NGF-S motorized focuser. Regarding
        the latter, I've viewed through a number of SCT's in the past weeks
        and all have had some degree of annoying mirror creep after
        focusing. One particular 10" LX200 was fitted with JMI's manual
        focuser (version NGF-SE) which completely bypassed the mirror shift
        problem. Once course focus was obtained for a given eyepiece using
        Meade's focusing knob, the JMI provided extremely smooth and very
        fine focusing.

        I haven't abandoned the LX90, but I am leaning towards the more
        durable LX200 equipment.

        The owner of the configured 10" LX200 mentioned above, strongly
        emphasized that balacing the scope is absolutely essential to avoid
        gear damage if a heavier diagonal, eyepieces, and focuser are used.
        He destroyed the gears on an 8" LX200 by failing to do so!! He
        previously owned Meade's 7" LX200 Maksutov-Cassegrain before he
        upgraded to the 8" LX200. After he got the gear damage repaired he
        moved up to the 10".

        Since I plan to use a 2" focuser, diagonal and eyepieces whenever
        possible, I concerned that the LX90 will have smaller 4.9" worm gears
        than the 5.75" worm gears used on the LX200 models. Also Meade's
        specs. for the LX90 do not mention any manual slow motion RA nor Dec
        controls. They only appear to be electric.

        All that being said, I'm eagerly awaiting a good look at an LX90.

        As for the vibration dampeners, it sounds like you've come up with a
        great remedy. You might try cutting some Ensolite (or equivalent
        closed cell sleeping-bag-pad-type foam) into small discs to fit
        inside the rubber sink stoppers. It may prove to provide just a bit
        more density and add to the dampening of the assembly.

        I don't know what type of tripod system you are using with your
        NexStar 5, but Meade's tripod which will be shipping with the LX90 is
        the same as that which ships with their 8" and 10" LX200 models. It
        is a very substantial and stable unit, particularly when used at its
        nonextended position. You may find that this tripod alone solves
        your vibration problems, although on a wooden deck, I'd still tend to
        think that dampening may be needed.

        Hoping the LX90's appear soon....

        Best regards,

        Robert S. Greenstein, Esq.
      • Wayne Powell (AeroWood)
        Robert, Thanks for your message. Yes, Meade must be doing production of the LX90 off-shore. Apparently they ve been trucking around a prototype to dealer
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 14, 2000
          Robert,
           
          Thanks for your message.  Yes, Meade must be doing production of the LX90 off-shore.  Apparently they've been trucking around a prototype to dealer shows, the first of which didn't impress my dealer, but thesecond of which has my dealer and all his staff waiting in expectation (they've ordered LX90's for personal use, so they'll get the first ones off the truck).
           
          I too had seriously considered the LX200, but the extra costs are outside my budget right now.   I will thoroughly inspect the LX-90 before purchase upon its arrival.  I've been with my current dealer Ray Khan of www.khanscope.com in Toronto for some time so he lets me order things without money down and on a "return it if you don't like it" basis since I keep everything in "as shipped" order.
           
          I'm using a Manfrotto 055c tripod from my days as a photography student with my N5 right now and it's pretty stable (though I've made some modification to it).  I too opted, in part, to consider the LX90 over the N8 because of the LX200 Field tripod which I consider to be a "real" tripod.
           
          Another reason I was hesitant about going for an LX200 was the added weight.  My original scope purchases (when I lived in the city of Toronto) were to have a portable scope and the ETX90 fit the bill back then.  The N5 gave me the same portability with a little more aperature (but at the loss of some contrast - the ETX was a Maksutov Cassegrain).  I'm still impressed by the engineering of the N5 and ease of use, but I'm pretty sure the N8 will be less stable and reliable because it uses the same single fork arm.   And of course the fact that the controller can't be re-programmed (firmware) is a hinderance because I don't currently have a portable computer to dedicate to it. 
           
          Software Bisque's new software for Pocket PC / Windows CE might be an acceptable solution but I haven't purchased it (or tested it) though I do own Version 4 LVL III of the regular PC software.
           
          I'm hoping the LX90 will allow manual slewing of the scope while staying in alignment, it's a feature not available on the N5 which makes initial alignments and "star-hopping" a pain in the butt.  I am getting used to slewing via motor control, though.
           
          I had considered chucking the whole idea of an LX90 or LX200 in favour of an LX10 or LX50 and go back to manual object finding.  It's too bad Meade hasn't drastically dropped the price of their Magellan DSC's though, which I would add.   However, on nights of poor seeing, a GOTO scope is great as you know the object you're searching for is within or pretty close to the field of view and it makes finding obscure/faint objects easier to find as the seeing improves.
           
          Thank you for the tip regarding foam in the Anti-Vibration Pads, I'll give that a try.  I'm heavily into Audiophile steroe too and you should see how much they charge for anti-vibration pads (which, again, are nothing more than a refined version of my $10 Home Depot solution).  there is another vibration trick used in audio that may have some applicability here too.  It involves using spikes to isolate the equipment (speaker, turntable, tube amp, etc) from ground vibrations.  I forget the exact math, but by forcing broadband waves (audio or sub-adio waves (vibrations) are very broad band by light wave standards) through a smaller contact point the points of contact reflect, rather than absorb and translate waves in the frequencies that cause equipment vibration (and interfer or coincide with audio frequencies).  Longer waves (like a floor dipping due to weight or the standing waves caused by low bass and sub-bass frequencies can still be translated but theiy're less coincident with our normal range of hearing (and can be dampened quickly by the sheer weight and mass of the equipment (or by using spongy absorbant materials which allow the equipment's inertia to assist inthe dampening). 
           
          In the telescope equipment aspect I suspect a combination of tripod spikes & flexible anti-vibration pads may be of some application, BUT since spikes can reflect vibrations created by the telescope's own movement back up the tripod legs I wonder if this approach would be counter intuitive.  If I get some time I'll try some experiments.
           
          Wayne Powell
          -----Original Message-----
          From: Robert S. Greenstein, Esq. [mailto:RG@...]
          Sent: September 13, 2000 15:29
          To: lx90@egroups.com
          Subject: [lx90] Re: Any news on LX90? And other DIY musings.



          Hi Wayne!

          There seems to be lots of turbulence and poor seeing regarding the
          LX90's availability date.  Amongst the various purported release
          dates I've heard, the soonest is September 20, with October and
          November also claimed by several "in the know" vendors. 

        • Robert S. Greenstein, Esq.
          Hopefully any offshore production components of the LX90 will at least meet, if not exceed, Meade s domestic quality assurance tolerances. In preparation for
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 14, 2000
            Hopefully any offshore production components of the LX90 will at
            least meet, if not exceed, Meade's domestic quality assurance
            tolerances.

            In preparation for my new scope, I've already begun buying 2" TV
            eyepieces, JMI's motorized SCT focuser, a Telrad, a Roll Table and
            Orion's Heavy Duty Observing Stool, and have a 2" TV Everbrite
            diagonal on order.

            It sure would be nice to have a scope though!?!? ;-)
          • jon@starseed.com
            Several phone conversations with Meade have revealed that they really have no idea. One to three months is what I have been told. My sense is that they don t
            Message 5 of 5 , Sep 15, 2000
              Several phone conversations with Meade have revealed that they really
              have no idea. One to three months is what I have been told. My sense
              is that they don't want to promise a promise that can't keep so they
              are warning that it might not be until November. I would not be
              suprised if I didn't get mine until Nov. 1 but I am hoping for Oct 1
              and will start bugging the store I ordered it through at that time : )

              --- In lx90@egroups.com, "Wayne Powell \(AeroWood\)" <aerowood@h...>
              wrote:
              > Just wondering if anyone has heard of or has an ETA on the LX90? My
              dealer
              > (here in Canada) doesn't expect the first shipment to arrive until
              October.
              >
              > In the meantime I'm still happily using my Nexstar 5 (which is being
              traded
              > in when the LX90 arrives).
              >
              > I'm finding that a GOTO scope is making me lazy, that is, I used to
              spend a
              > lot more time exploring and learning a region by naked eye,
              binoculars and
              > star-hopping before zeroing in on a selected target. Now, punch a
              few
              > coordinates, align, select a target and boom there it is (if the
              seeing is
              > good). I will admit, however, that I've been able to "find" and see
              a lot
              > more targets than I ever have before. I just wish that the planets
              were more
              > visible this summer, when surrounded by visitors and the family
              crowd it's a
              > little disheartening to have to say "now that little fuzzy blob in
              the
              > centre is Andromeda". Visitors don't get the benefit of extended
              and
              > repeated viewing which improves one's "mind's eye" resolution of
              obscure
              > objects over time.
              >
              > One thing I did to combat this was to build a home made video camera
              (so I
              > could share views of the planets, sun and moon with bystanders).
              Basically
              > I took a miniature "spy" ccd camera (about $125) and mounted it in a
              small
              > project box with a 1.25 eyepiece filter ring (cheap one with the
              filter
              > glass removed) in front to attach a 1.25 extension tube so I can
              mount it at
              > the rear of the OTA (or in the eyepiece holder) and project onto the
              ccd
              > (with the camera's lense removed). It works admirably as far as
              I've
              > tested, but admittedly, because I have to lug a television set out
              to my
              > observing spots, it hasn't gotten enough use. I'm experimenting
              with
              > improving it's sensitivity (removed - ok broke - the camera's IR
              filter) by
              > using filters that improve the infrared sensitivity (which the
              cameras are
              > particularly sensitive to). Hopefully, at some point this fall, I
              will
              > record some images to videotape and capture some for the web.
              >
              > By keeping the camera's own lense in, eyepiece projection is also
              possible.
              > Sears sells a generic Digital Camera Adapter (for about $80
              Canadian) for
              > telescopes that I picked up for this purpose. It's not the most
              precisely
              > engineered gizmo I have but it works (attaches by clamp to the
              eyepiece
              > holder).
              >
              > Ultimately I am going on a theory proposed by someone (sources of
              which I've
              > forgotten) who suggested that by taking real-time video sequences of
              DSO's,
              > then selecting multiple frames of "good seeing" and using astro
              stacking
              > software to align and improve image resolution and contrast.
              >
              > Some other items that I've "engineered" that have come in handy.
              >
              > A focusing aid. Basically a large plastic coffee can lid, with a
              stiff
              > non-corrugated cardboard insert for support, and an inner ring of
              closed
              > cell foam strip (to hold it to the OTA front). Three 1" diam. holes
              are cut
              > in the lid (outside the position of the OTA's central obstruction).
              It
              > projects three images into the eyepiece which when focussed come
              together as
              > one. It works surprisingly well, but I expect a commercial one
              would be
              > more precise.
              >
              > Anti-vibration pads. A Home Depot Special. For about $10 you can
              get
              > rubber sink stoppers and furniture leg cups (what are these called?
              it's
              > like a shallow rubber cup that protects the carpet from furniture
              leg
              > damage) that fit together almost perfectly creating an almost
              hermetically
              > sealed rubber and air cushion for the tripod legs. I'm
              experimenting with
              > two versions, in the first I cut through the tops of the stoppers to
              form an
              > indent for the tripod legs to sit on. The second I will not cut all
              the way
              > through the stoppers and therefore there will be an air cushion
              trapped
              > between the stopper and the furniture cups. They work so well that
              on a
              > wooden deck this summer, only the heaviest of footfalls made their
              way
              > through as visible vibrations, and dampening of the scopes
              vibrations were
              > improved by a factor of about 2.
              >
              > Now that I'm getting prepared for Fall/Winter and the arrival of the
              new
              > scope, I started thinking about a portable shelter/observatory for
              my scope
              > (it gets cold here in Canada). After researching the availability
              and price
              > of astronomy tents, I found that the ones sold by Kendrik (right
              here in
              > Ontario) are probably the best bet. At first I considered them
              expensive,
              > but in searching for a cheap alternative to modify, similar tents
              are
              > getting harder to find as the major brands have all moved to dome
              designs.
              > Alas, Sears may have come to my rescue again. I just ordered their
              4 -
              > Person Ice Fishing Shelter (6' x 8') by Hillary ($180 Canadian).
              It's made
              > of a black waterproof nylon material, perfect for hiding me from the
              > neighbour's porch light. Now I have to modify it so it has flaps on
              three
              > sides to poke the scope through. There still will be obstructions
              near
              > Zenith and four corners, but that's the trade off. I expect to use
              velcro
              > instead of zippers, but I'll let everyone know how the experiment
              turns out
              > once I've finished re-engineering the tent. Also, I suspect that a
              black
              > tent could get rather warm if left up in the daylight during warmer
              weather.
              > I'll probably make a cheap fly from mylar material (emergency
              blankets) to
              > put over the observatory tent during the day to reflect away the
              heat. Now
              > that's going to look really odd sitting in my back yard!
              >
              > Wayne Powell
              > Meade LX-90 eGroup [http://www.egroups.com/group/lx90%5d
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