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Thread: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

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    Default Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...



    I’ve been wanting a tracking platform for my 80mm short tube refractor, in order to be able to take pictures of bright galaxies and nebulae. Without tracking, I’m limited to about ½ second of exposure time before star trailing occurs, which isn’t enough time to get the depth of detail I’m looking for. So I’ve been on the lookout for a tripod/mount that has GoTo capabilities and can also fit my telescope.

    A couple weeks ago, I purchased a Meade 80mm f/10 refractor from a Goodwill auction. It had the AutoStar mount and handset and looked to be in good condition, but it was listed as “not in working order.” I took a chance on it anyway and bought it for $8 plus $25 shipping, bringing my total cost to $33. It arrived well-packed but I could immediately tell that some of the parts were connected up wrong (and in the case of the finderscope, backwards!).



    I took it all apart and reassembled everything correctly and put new batteries in the AutoStar and turned it on. The handset came on and showed a welcome screen, but after a few seconds, went out again.. None of the buttons seemed to do anything. Not giving up, I scoured the Internet for a copy of the manual and tried everything it mentioned in its troubleshooting guide. Still nothing. The power came on, the handset gave an initial welcome message, and then the screen went blank and none of the buttons worked.

    The manual did mention a way to reset the controller back to default settings, but it required going through the handset menu options, which I couldn’t do because the handset kept turning itself off before the menu appeared.

    I dug around some more on the Internet and came across somebody else that had a similar problem. It turns out there’s an undocumented way to reset the controller: press down on the mode key with the AutoStar turned off and leave it pressed in for a few seconds after powering it back on. This worked! The handset went through the initialization procedure, let me select my location, and soon it was ready to go.

    I finally got an opportunity to run it through its paces last night. The sky was mostly clear, but it was breezy and seeing wasn’t very good. No matter. I just wanted to test the optics of the telescope and see if the tracking worked at all.

    I put the telescope in “home” position, which was horizontal and pointed as close to north as I could get. Polaris was visible, so I did my best to get in its general direction. I then chose 2-Star Alignment on the handset’s menu and it asked me to pick a star. Arcturus was big and bright and still low in the southeast, so that was my first choice. The telescope whirred to life and turned towards the target. It was in the general area, so I took a look through the eyepiece. Nothing there. I wasn’t really expecting it to be in the field of view, since my estimation of north was so rough.

    I moved the telescope a couple of degrees until Arcturus was centered in the eyepiece, then used the handset to choose my second star. This time, I wanted something on the opposite side of the sky and higher up. Regulus looked like it would fit the bill. Whirrrrrr! Again, it got to the general area but still missed its mark. I manually centered it in the eyepiece and then decided to see if it could find Jupiter.

    Whirrrrrr! Still not quite there. I adjusted again and took a look. I was using a 25mm eyepiece, which gave me a 32X view. Jupiter was small, but you could make out the equatorial cloud belts and all 4 Galilean moons. I popped in a 9mm eyepiece (89X) and was pleased that I could start seeing a bit more detail. The Great Red Spot was faint, but definitely there, as were some color variations in the North Equatorial Belt and a couple more bands were popping in and out of view.

    This was definitely not the resolution and detail of my 12-inch Dob, but for a small scope, it wasn’t bad. I felt the image was a little soft, but I’m hoping that’s just a result of the sky conditions and not the optics of the telescope. Time will tell.

    I popped my cellphone onto the eyepiece and took a few short videos. Jupiter was drifting noticeably across the field, so tracking was definitely off. I’ll have to do some more reading to see if I can improve this a bit. I converted the videos to still frames and stacked them to produce the following mediocre image:



    I then decided to get brave and try for M13, the Great Hercules Cluster, which was still pretty low but a hard target for me to ignore. Again, the scope got close but I had to search a bit manually afterwards to get it in the eyepiece. I’m so used to seeing M13 at high power and filling up the entire field of view with its brilliance that the dim smudge that greeted me was almost a disappointment. Still, I fiddled with taking its picture. The tracking was bad enough that I was limited to a maximum of 5 seconds exposure, and even then the stars were showing signs of trailing.

    Vignetting is a big issue for me on the dob with faint objects and it seems to be even worse on this telescope. The images I got were so noisy, I couldn’t clean them up enough to show anything worthwhile.

    While its use as a camera lens for my smartphone seems to leave a lot to be desired, visually, it’s not too bad. I’ll take it out on a better night and see how it fares. In the meantime, it may get to see some use at outreach events and I will try my short tube refractor on it to see if tracking works any better with the lighter weight telescope.. But for $33, I can’t complain. 😊
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Nice that you managed to get it working Tom.
    Do you have to "train" the motors on that mount?
    Nice image and good luck on the next outing
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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabby76 View Post
    Nice that you managed to get it working Tom.
    Do you have to "train" the motors on that mount?
    Nice image and good luck on the next outing
    Thanks, Gabby! I did try the "train" function on the AutoStar and it seemed to work okay. I may not have done the 2-star alignment properly. I'm not used to GoTo systems. For one thing, when I was aligning on the stars, it told me to center the star in the eyepiece. I tried using the arrow keys to move the motors, but they had no effect, so I loosened the alt-az locks and manually moved the telescope until it was centered, then locked both axes down again. This may not be the proper way to do it. I'll have to do some more reading.

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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Quote Originally Posted by starlogborg View Post
    Thanks, Gabby! I did try the "train" function on the AutoStar and it seemed to work okay. I may not have done the 2-star alignment properly. I'm not used to GoTo systems. For one thing, when I was aligning on the stars, it told me to center the star in the eyepiece. I tried using the arrow keys to move the motors, but they had no effect, so I loosened the alt-az locks and manually moved the telescope until it was centered, then locked both axes down again. This may not be the proper way to do it. I'll have to do some more reading.
    Congrats on the new old scope Tom. The capture shows promise. I believe you do need to use arrow keys for the 2-star alignment, other wise your controler would not register that you move the scope.
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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    It may have just been taking up the slack of the spur gears in a slower gear, as I have mentioned before "backlash settings"
    Since you had to do a reset on the HC, any settings that were in there would have been erased.
    If there is a lot of slack then that could be part of the cause of the target drifting away quickly.
    I assume you do not have a crosshair eyepiece so just defocus the star so it fills the eyepiece. Much easier to center that way.
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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Pretty cool Jupiter image, regardless, Tom. I like it.

    Hopefully, you can catch a better night to evaluate the scope and it will perform better for you.

    My Celestron Premium 80 is one of my favorite scopes. A real pleasure to observe with.
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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Very nicely done. And a nice find! Not a bad pic at all. I had a shot at Jupiter the other night, but he was still in the tree line when I had to get to bed.

    I picked up one of those bad-boys (well, the 2090 I believe) for $30 locally a couple of months ago, which happened to have a full #497 controller. The focuser gear was stripped, but that was about it.
    Just unpacked a new box from Telescope Warehouse with the new (and much gooder) Aluminum focuser tube (instead of the stock plastic one), as well as a battery door (so I can put in a power-jack, to use with an external 12V supply). And a new RDF with the stock mounting holes.
    Haven't had much of a chance getting out, between work, and life/life events, and the crappy nights (except during 1/2 to full moon times!). Hoping for a better new Moon cycle this month with the skies so I can get mine out there.
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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Thanks, everyone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabby76 View Post
    It may have just been taking up the slack of the spur gears in a slower gear, as I have mentioned before "backlash settings"
    Since you had to do a reset on the HC, any settings that were in there would have been erased.
    If there is a lot of slack then that could be part of the cause of the target drifting away quickly.
    I assume you do not have a crosshair eyepiece so just defocus the star so it fills the eyepiece. Much easier to center that way.
    I did a quick search and found another thread where you discussed "backlash settings." I didn't remember anything like that when scrolling through my AutoStar menu, so did a search and found out that Meade calls it "Altitude Percent" and "Azimuth Percent". I skipped over those initially because I wasn't sure what they meant and didn't want to mess anything up. They were both set to 25%. Just for a quick test, I put them both at 50% and then I started noticing a bit of movement in both axes whenever I press the movement buttons while the scope is tracking.

    I'll play around with these numbers in the field and see if I can get alignment working better. I'm thinking this was the problem, though.

    Thanks, Gabby! Darth Fractor is my hero! (Don't let my dobs know that I said that.)
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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Nothing can be simple between Meade and Celestron!
    If one calls a setting something, the other will have to come up with a different name for it!
    I hope you get it all set up quickly and enjoy using the telescope
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    Default Re: Used Meade DS-2080AT first (for me) light...

    Nothing can be simple between Meade and Celestron!
    If one calls a setting something, the other will have to come up with a different name for it!
    I hope you get it all set up quickly and enjoy using the telescope
    Refractors: Antares 105 f/15, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNG 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen SD115s f/7.7
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    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 10-18-2005, 02:47 AM

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