Weasner's 8" LX200-ACF Report #1
Last updated: 15 October 2008
15 October 2008
The new 8" LX200-ACF arrived today. This is the replacement telescope for my 3rd newly received (and returned) 8" LX90-ACF. Here's my unpacking and set up report.
Here is the LX200 shipping box, next to the LX200 tripod. The tripod is the same one that came with my 8" LX90-ACF. So it was already unpacked from when I unpacked the first LX90.
Here's the opened telescope box. All the accessories for the 8" LX200-ACF are in this box along with the OTA and fork mount.
The LX200-ACF ships with a Meade Series 5000 26mm eyepiece vs the Series 4000 26mm that comes with the ETX, LXD75, and LX90 models.
Once the telescope was completely unpacked and set up, the results looked like this:
You can see the Zero Image-Shift Microfocuser attached at the rear port. This is standard with the LX200-ACF models. Adapters are included for both 1.25" and 2" accessories.
Set up was straight forward. One thing that became quickly apparently is that this telescope is much heavier than my previous 8" telescopes:
LXD75-8"SC = 24 (OTA) + 45 (tripod/GEM head/counterweight) = 69 lbs
8" LX90-ACF = 33 (OTA/fork mount) + 19 (tripod) = 52 lbs
8" LX200-ACF = 54 (OTA/fork mount) + 19 (tripod) = 73 lbs
Most of the extra weight for the 8" LX200-ACF is in the mount since the same OTA is used for all three models. The LX200-ACF does have the electronic focuser but that adds very little weight.
When moving the LXD75-8"SC from indoors to the backyard in California (before it was stolen) I could handle it assembled. However, for traveling to and setting up at Oracle Observatory I removed the OTA and moved the OTA and tripod/GEM head/counterweight individually. When moving the 8" LX90-ACF from indoors to the backyard in Arizona I could handle it assembled. However, for traveling to and setting up at Oracle Observatory I removed the OTA/mount and moved the OTA/mount and tripod individually. The 8" LX200-ACF is almost too heavy to move very far without removing the OTA/fork mount from the tripod. But I'll give it a shot. For visits to Oracle Observatory (until I have my SkyShed POD set up), I'll remove the OTA/fork mount from the tripod so that it will fit into my 2002 Prius.
I did experience one minor difference in this 8" LX200-ACF vs my previous 8" telescopes from Meade. I have the Meade piggyback camera adapter which fits 7-10" OTAs. It fit fine at the rear of the OTA on my previous telescopes but the screws on the 8" LX200-ACF won't allow it to be attached at the rear. There are only two available and the spacing is wrong. The adapter can be attached at the front of the OTA but this would put the camera's viewfinder in an ackward location. But I'll give it a try at some point.
I moved the telescope outside in the daytime to TRAIN DRIVES and align the finderscope. During my tests I discovered the balance is a lot better than with the 8" LX90-ACF. When the Altitude axis is unlocked the OTA stays put. I also discovered that the AutoStar II takes a little longer to boot up than the AutoStar #497. And the Auto Align leveling, north-ing, and GPS fix took about 5 minutes. One other step was required in the daytime: setting up the microfocuser drawtube position. That only took about a minute and shouldn't need to be done again. With the daytime steps completed, I began my wait for nightfall.
The weather was good so "first light" was this same night. That's a rare occurrence when receiving a new telescope!
Set up in the backyard. The moon was a day past Full so the sky was very bright. I let the LX200-ACF go through its initialization steps; the first alignment star was just outside of the finderscope field-of-view. But once I completed the alignment stars centering, all objects GOTO-ed were placed right smack in the middle of the 26mm eyepiece FOV! And speaking of the eyepiece, the Series 5000 26mm is really impressive. Stars were points of light right to the edge of the FOV. The moon's disk filled slightly less than the full FOV. Even with the bright sky, M57, the Ring Nebula, was a beautiful sight. This was my first real experience with a Series 5000 eyepiece and I found it very very nice.
All objects were tracked well, with no jerkiness seen. Slewing was smooth and easily controlled from the AutoStar II. The Microfocuser worked well. Its fastest speed was slower than I expected, but that is a good thing as you do coarse focusing with the main focus knob on the OTA. A collimation test showed nearly perfectly round and concentric rings of light.
After looking at a few objects and doing some tracking and focusing tests, I did the CALIBRATE SENSORS to correct for the True North location. The next alignment put the alignment stars near the center of the finderscope FOV.
Overall, an enjoyable "first light" with my new 8" LX200-ACF.
I will be taking the 8" LX200-ACF to Oracle Observatory in a couple of weeks. I'll report on the results of that extended use under dark skies.
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