My Astro Equipment

I am the proud owner of a Meade 10" LX-200 "Classic" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. I used to have an LX-50, but I upgraded. The following is a collection of info about the various pieces and parts I have accumulated and experienced over the years...

Click on any image to see an enlarged version.

Here is the most important part of my observatory. My kids. This first picture is Zach and Libby when they were about 5 and 4. This picture is when I just got the LX-200. The second and third photos are of them at ages 10 and 8 (December 30, 2006).

  


LX-200 in my observatory. Notice how close to the roof bearing member the top is? I'm really lucky I made the roof so high. Originally, I wasn't going to do this. The height of the walls was increased because of my southern exposure being washed out by the light pollution of a nearby city.

This is a picture of Zach showing the difference between the 8" LX-50 (left), and the 10" LX-200 (right). They look to be the same size, but the LX-50 is on a wedge, the LX-200 is not. It's hard to tell, but the OTA (Optical Tube Assembly) on the 10" LX-200 is longer and wider than the 8" LX-50.





This shows the difference between the paddle controllers of the LX-50 (left) and LX-200 (right). The LX-200 has a set of NSEW directional buttons also, but this controller has a joystick attachment mounted over them. The joystick is a big help.

LX-200 with Lumicon Giant Easy Guider and ST-4 autoguider.





This is the Meade SuperWedge. It's MUCH better than the standard wedge for many reasons. Click Here for a comparison between the SuperWedge and the standard wedge.

Lumicon Giant EasyGuder - Without a doubt, the finest Off-axis guiding system available. This one allows you to rotate it, move it, twist it, etc., in just about every imagineable fashion. Plus, it give you back 44% of the light that the 2" visual back restricts. It also includes a lens that gives you one of four f/ratios: f/10, f/6.5, f/5.5, or f/4. With the basic 2" f/6.3 focal reducer (I had a celestron), there is very bad vignetting. Even at f/5.5, there is an acceptable level of vignetting. Read my notes below on the GEG. If you would like some details about this device, you can check out Philip Perkin's web site. He has some great documents on this remarkable device. Click Here for a great article on the GEG. I am especially fond of this one because I have every piece of equipment he mentions! In addition, he does a great job at reporting the differences between the various f/ratio modes, and even includes sample photos of each.





Another view of the Lumicon Giant EasyGuider. Shown is the GEG with the eyepiece extension tube and the 2" camera extension tube.

Kendrick Dew Removal System Heater Controller. There is room for up to four heater straps. I have three.





Kendrick Dew Removal System Heater Straps. I have one over the corrector plate, one around the finder, and one for the telrad.

My Backup Dew Removal System (a hairdryer). Sometimes, even with the dew zapper, moisture forms on the corrector plate- this happens more commonly in winter where it frosts up. A hairdryer is very effective in eliminating dew and frost.

I have found that by using the dew zapper along with a dew shield, there is almost no dew, even after being out all night in 20-degree weather, so I haven't had to use this in awhile.





This is a Kendrick Kwik Focus. This aids in focusing very acurately for astrophotography. When a camera is attached to the telescope, it is difficult to focus on something through a standard viewfinder. With this focuser mask, and the Peak Lupe and the Beattie Intenscreen, I have no problem focusing. When not being used for focusing, it can be plugged, and used as a dust cover plate.

Kendrick Kwik Focus with 80mm Badaar Solar Filter. Kendrick offers a solar insert for the Kwik Focus mask. Basically, you remove one of the plugs, and epoxy in an 80mm threaded ring. When you wish to view the sun, you screw in the Badaar solar filter lens. When not in use, a cover plate is screwed into the threads.





Peak 8x Lupe converted into a magnified viewfinder. Works great! With this configuration, the view of a deep space object is a little dimmer than if I were using a cheap MA25mm eyepiece. Some day I plan to write up documentation on how to build one of these. It just takes a little patience, a dremmel tool, and the lupe. This is the rectangle model, which is very close in size and shape to the prism channel.

The Beattie Intenscreen Plus focus screen with etched gridlines. I got this model over the clear model for two reasons- 1) the etched lines on the screen aid in making sure the lupe is focused properly, and 2) it aids in centering my target object in the viewfinder.





7/10/06 - Finally got into the world of DSLR astrophotography. After a lot of reading, I decided to get a Nikon D50. There are others that are better, like some of the Canon cameras (wish I could afford a 20Da), but I really like this camera. There are some quirky things about it, but that happens. You can read much more about this in the articles section, and see some photos I've shot in the astrophotography section.

I also got into the world of Web-Cam astrophotography. You're probably thinking it's cheezy using this cheap little video camera for astrophotography, but I'll tell you, I don't think I've ever seen images from film or DSLR from an amateur home observatory that rivals some of the photos I've seen made by a webcam. The way it works is, the webcam takes a constant video stream of maybe 10-20 frames per second. You take that movie file, import it into some software, and the software digitally stacks and averages the images to make a super-crisp image. You can see some of the photos I've taken in the astrophotography section.





This is the SBIG ST-4 Autoguider. I have only recently had the opportunity to use it-- you can read about why I haven't used it previously below. Basically, I've wrestled with many different issues, including focusing (big factor), dec backlash, and just not knowing how to use the thing properly. I am just starting to use it properly after 6 years.

My collection of eyepieces:
  • 40mm Sirius Plossl
  • 32mm Sirius Plossl
  • 26mm Meade Super Plossl
  • 20mm Celestron Plossl
  • 5.3mm Celestron Plossl
  • 42.5mm MA (Modified Apochromatic)
  • 16.8mm Orthoscopic
  • 12.5mm Wide-angle Orthoscopic
  • 2x Meade barlow
  • 12.5mm Kellner
  • 9mm Kellner
  • 10mm Orthoscopic
  • 7mm Orthoscopic
  • 9mm MA
  • 25mm MA
  • 12.5mm Wide Angle
  • Meade 9mm illuminated crosshair reticle






  • My 2" eyepieces (63mm and 32mm), a shorty 2x barlow, kendrick 80mm Badaar solar filter insert...
    (update 12/29/06: I also have a 2" 14mm 62° Wide-angle, and a 2" 15mm 82° super wide-angle that I have added to this collection, but not yet pictured).

    1.25" eyepiece filters:
  • #12 Yellow
  • #21 Orange
  • #25 Red
  • #29 Purple
  • #35A Blue
  • #47 Purple
  • #96 ND (Neutral Density) Gray





  • Although they can be controlled manually, laptop computers are great for controlling telescopes and autoguiders. The problem is, they're really bright. Even if the program has a "dark screen" mode, there are parts of the screen that have white in them, such as the icons, or when you close out one program and startup another. The other problem is when you view the screen from an angle, the pixels still give off light.

    Here is a Compaq Armada 1700 Pentium II 266 with a broken screen (some sort of video driver hardware problem causes some weird lines about 1" in from the right side). This was enough for the laptop to be unfit for normal use.

    With 6 layers of red cellophane wrapping paper (found at a nearby hobby & craft store), this normally bright screen has been converted into an awesome dark-adapted computer for my telescope and/or ST-4. Even that weird part of the screen isn't visible with the cellophane over it. The photo makes it look like the cellophane is lumpy and unreadable, but trust me, it looks great, and works perfectly.

    Here's the laptop with the cover off. All it takes is a few measured sheets of cellophane and some scotch tape..





    This is a great little gadget. It's screwed into the hole where the original shipping mirror bolt was. It's used to put tension on the primary mirror to prevent "mirror flop" during long exposure photography, especially near the zenith.

    Now, I've seen this a few places, but I have to believe that Chris Vedeler invented this device. He doesn't sell it, he gives you the plans to build your own. How cool is that? Click Here to check out his page, with plans.



    New goodies, not pictured... Nikon D50 DSLR camera, 80mm refractor guide scope with rings, Philips ToUcam Pro 840k (webcam), Rob Roy joystick for LX200 controller, EZ Focus Kit, and some other stuff I can't think of at the moment. I'll post photos of that stuff eventually.

    I have replaced a good deal of my equipment for various reasons (see below). For starters, I no longer have the LX-50 scope, the red Maksutov scope, the 201xt, the Meade off-axis guider, the orion dew zapper, nor the Celestron focal reducer. You can find the old page by clicking here. There are still a lot of great detailed photos of some stuff, along with some suggestions and/or tips (especially for LX-50 owners), so I left the page available.

    I have replaced these things with the following (in respective order): Meade 10" LX-200, SBIG ST-4, Lumicon Giant EasyGuider, Kendrick Dew Removal System, and some other great stuff.


    Site contents and images © 2007 by Frank Schwartz - contact: frank-at-ovobservatory.com