30 cm Telescope and Equipment
30 cm Meade LX-200 "classic"
TCF, Optec f/5 focal reducer
SBIG CFW-10, SBIG ST-8ixme,
Schuler BVRI filters
Kendrick Dew Heater and
A real workhorse. In service since September 2001. Only
problem to date has been a minor issues with power connector.
Runs unattended overnight, and has never ran away. 150 second
unguided exposures are no problem. Over 15,000 CCD
observations were taken in the first 5 years of operation with
this scope. Most of those have been submitted to AAVSO or
published in IBVS. Still in use tonight.
40 cm Telescope and Equipment
40 cm Meade LX-200R
Instruments Filter Wheel with Schuler BVRI filters
SBIG ST-8xme CCD
Kendrick Dew Heater and
A portion of the 40 cm telescope was paid for with a
small research grant from the American Astronomical Society.
Installed in December 2006. Doesn't track as well as the
It has "run home" to the pole on it's own while
unattended. When this happened, the instrument package crashed
into the forks. Meade wanted me to ship it back and pay
shipping (almost $2000 from Kansas) plus the cost of the
repair parts (a little over $1100) . I wouldn't have
a problem with this, but they kept reminding me that their
contract price with Yellow Freight was only $40. I did offer
to send it in IF they let me send it in at their contract
price. This didn't happen.
If I sent it in, I'd be out over $3000 and in the end, I'd
have a fixed scope that could do the same thing again. I
decided to fix it myself.
It took me six months to get the parts from
Meade, install them, design and install the limit switches on
the DEC and RA axis that would stop the scope from "running
away". The limit switches only took a weekend to figure
out. And it took a little bit for the parts (about $100). Total
cost for all the repair parts and the limit switch install,
After fighting tracking problems for a while, I installed
the SBIG ST-8xme and let MaximDL guide the 40cm as the CCD
gathers data. This made a huge difference and reduced the
uncertainty in the data by a factor of 2! Now a typical session
is +/-0.003 or better.
Things that didn't work out as expected.
The first CCD and filter wheel used on this scope was an
Optec IFW and an Apogee AP7 that I picked up on Astromart. I
really liked the AP7, big pixels, deep wells, and the price was
right. I got one and then was able to obtain a second camera
as a spare. The AP7s cameras and the filter wheel worked OK as
long as you were right there. But they struggled to run
unattended overnight. The 30cm was taking data to beat the
band, but the 40cm wasn't working so well. And this time the
problem wasn't with the scope. CCD shutters would stick, the
dynamic range on the CCD started doing goofy things (30K counts
as dark current in 60 seconds), filter wheel would hang when
told to change filters. It was not a fun time and took a while
to get figured out.
So I made a change, and went back to SBIG and a different
I have had great support from SBIG. I've owned a ST-6,
ST-8i and currently have the ST-8ixme and ST-8xme's taking
data. Just remember to regenerate the desiccant every
FLI filter wheel is chain driven, so the stepper motor
So even if it doesn't work right out of the box, stay with
it, when it all works, it's great.
If you are looking for spare parts for your Optec IFW or
Apogee AP7 (AP7/AP7B CCD camera, cables, ISA or PCI cards) drop me an email, we might be
able to work something out, firstname.lastname@example.org (change the two to 2).