Anyway before I start the review, I have some good news for those who are thinking of getting the LXD55 mount. I know a lot of people feared this mount because of the counterweight shaft hitting onto the North leg issue. Some are comtemplating of machining a pier for it and some have even turned the mount head 180 degrees so that the counterweight shaft is between the two rear legs (not a good solution) . There is a simple solution for this problem. As I suspected, the Vixen GP half-pier is fully compatible with this mount. Samuel of Harlequinn loaned me his GP half pier just to try it out and it does matched 100% indeed (down right to the position of screw holes). So, no need to machine and stuff. Just go buy one GP half pier from Remus.
Alright, now a little about the mount. First thing about it is that it's bloody noisy! LX-90 is mild compared to this fellow. It sounds like a machine grinder of some sort. It will make your pets running for cover. I am not kidding. It's loud...no wonder many people later begged Meade to have a Quiet Slew in the Autostar for LXD55 mount. Luckily, I was testing the scope and the mount at the HDB 19th floor rooftop where the water tank is...(hehehe....wonderful view, don't ask me how I got up there). If I am testing this below the block, I am sure people will throw pots and pans at me.
I didn't do a drift aligment and didn't manage to train the drive either. Anyway, the GOTO was really bad compared with the LX-90. However, I shall reserve my judgement on this because training the drive for the first time before use is a crucial step in getting a good GOTO. I missed out this step so I should not conclude so early. But I was dissapointed on one thing. In selecting two star alignment, Autostar has no Antares in its database! Can you imagine that? I chose Altair as the first alignment star and I panic when I realised there is no Antares in the database. Fortunately I could see West and there was a bright star there. I suspected it was Arcturus and a quick call to Samuel and Remus confirmed that. But even after the two star alignment, GOTO was an horror.
I got a gut feeling that this LXD55 mount will need an overhaul or something before it can work super smoothly. Typical of Meade products. But at least it is working electrically.
Fortunately the OTA salvaged back some pride for Meade. Out of the box, collimation was out but after some adjustment, the optics were much better than a typical SCT. I was surprised...very sharp and tight pinpoint stars. Star test showed that it is certainly better than 1/6 wave. Perhaps more surprising is that there was no image shift even at 105x! Focuser was very smooth (but tighter than Celestron's) and no stitchion unlike most Meade's OTA. But the dewcap is horribly tight. LX-90 dewcap was much better because you can grip it at the centre.
Image at the eypiece was really very very good.I have seen many SCTs, this one has very sharp views. Mars with the 7mm Nagler (286x) showed loads of details with no hint of image breakdown. I took some photos of Mars and the Moon....will process them when I have time.
Overall I am pleased with the package, just that the mount will require some garage work. Knowing a GP half pier can fit well on it is another bonus. But the best bonus is that I realised that the OTA and the mounthead can fit into the Pelican 1650 case. Luckily I didn't sold away that case last time.
Will report more when I discover more things
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Our resident review guru Vincent Snr writes about his impression of the MEADE LXD55 - SCT.