Notes from the field. My rants raves and frothing at the mouth about this maddening and frustrating buy lovely hobby
LX80 1st Light
by, 06-22-2012 at 06:21 AM (707 Views)
Tonight was first light with the LX80...
Impressions & thoughts starting with the bad...
It's a overly complicated $800 Alt/Az mount.
Overly complicated because in Alt/Az mode balancing the bloody thing is actually more difficult than on the CGEM. In Alt/Az the rail saddle is facing sideways which means for any OTA you are going to be supporting it all by yourself with no help from gravity. It uses a narrow and short Vixen saddle which again means you are going to be using your upper body to make sure its firmly in the saddle with no help. For those of you like me with a big OTA you better make sure you get it pressed correctly into that saddle or else you are going to have slippage because its not in right! Ok, it just occurred to me that it's about the same level of PITA as the Celestron 8SE in terms of getting it into the saddle and getting it balanced in declination.
Now add to that the fact that once you get it into the saddle and balanced in Dec you have to loosen both sets of RA knobs, pull out the hex key, release the RA clutch, dial the mount head up to 45*, and balance the ota in RA. After you have done that you have to return the head to the 0* position using the hex key, lock the RA clutch, lock the Dec clutch, tighten the RA knobs, while making sure that the Alt/Az arrow lines up with the corresponding arrow on the base of the mount and that the Dec circle is set to zero.
But wait! There's mooooree! Now you have to drop the bubble compass like you get with the LX90 into the OTA diagonal, release the Dec clutch and point the OTA to magnetic North, now relock the clutch and release the RA clutch (conveniently located on the weight bar) and rotate the OTA up and down until the bubble level says you are level, then relock the RA clutch.
And now you are ready to begin alignment.
Alignment was EXACTLY like on the LX90. Same star's same method, same degrees off, same same. So at least it's consistent. First goto alignment star was off, most likely something I did wrong, by a lot. Second one was off by a bit less but still off again most likely me not moving the entire assembly all 100 +/- lbs of it so that the arrows lined up where it was supposed to and instead just releasing the clutches and moving the OTA till it was set.
And the whole idea of it supporting a 40 lbs+ pound OTA... It supported the Celestron C11 with Vixen rail and Orion finderscope fine. The motors were not straining and they were about as loud as the LX90 and less loud than the CGEM. However... The thing would shake and vibrate like it was having a seizure! As in 1-2 seconds of shaking like a 6.5 earthquake. That saddle is way undersized for that OTA and I am going to be very surprised if we don't see reports of the same or worse from 10" Meade OTA users. My guess would be a 8" OTA is going to be max without some kind of vibration dampening pads.
And now the good...
To be fair the CGEM also dances like a jitterbug with the C11 on it so I wasn't surprised.
It is quieter and moves more smoothly than a CG5 and a CGEM. The CGEM sounds like I am moving a 155mm Howitzer or trying to take off in a Harrier Jump Jet.
The Goto and tracking accuracy were fair. After alignment Mars was almost centered in the 26mm EP as was Saturn. It went right to M13 as well and did to specification on tracking. However it seemed after slewing to get Saturn and Mars more centered in the 8.8 mm ES 82* it lost it's way and started to be off.
For giggles I parked it and it managed to put itself right back where I started. Kind of novel that. So I took a picture to show it.
Tomorrow I will test it in the dual OTA mode with the ES102. If it handles the ES 102mm refractor and the C11 then it will be worth the $800 to me because I can setup both OTA's on it and view in the 102 until the C11 cools down enough to be worth while.
I will also try Polar alignment sometime this weekend. After reading the directions it seems to be a slight variation on the All Star Polar Align used by the CGEM in that it doesn't ask you to move the mount once you have it roughly polar aligned it just asks you to center Polaris in the EP. Not sure how this is going to work out as a serious AP mount based on this but time will tell.
Here are the photos of it...
lx80 c11 right close 062112
lx80 c11 rear pointing to spica 062112
lx80 c11 parked 062112
lx80 c11 left close 062112
lx80 c11 front right 062112