Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My LXD55: The tripod

Here I begin another serial of articles about my work horse mount, the Meade LXD55.

LXD55 is basically a Chinese made Vixen GP clone, with added GOTO system based on Meade Autostar. It's not particularly good quality, actually, it's quite cheap internally. I've some more articles following to show how cheap is its internal, and also how to improve it.

I bought mine from an online friend from Alaska, since Meade factory outline on ebay does not allow direct ordering from non-US location. To save shipping cost, I asked my online friend to throw away the bundled tripod for me. I know the tripod is of low quality, and it does not worth to ship it at all. The ebay price is very fine indeed, and it's probably the cheapest GOTO GEM in the world.

Since I didn't get the tripod, my first project is to find one suitable for this purpose. I could buy a Vixen but there's other options available. I've a Gitzo G1415 which I used with my Giro mount and I found it very compact and light weight, and what is more important is that, it supports my C8 pretty well, so I believe that it will do the job to hold my LXD55.

All I need is to custom made an adapter for it. The G1415 has a top mounting plate with a 3/8" screw on it, if one want a center column, this plate is to be replaced with a center column. To me, a center column is absolutely not needed for astronomy purpose, and to maximize the stability, it simply shouldn't be used. On removing that mounting plate, you can see it's held by something like a compression ring:

Here is the dimension of the adapter, together with a photograph:-

With some measurements, I know I need an adapter like this:-

* 8.5cm outer diameter
* 10cm flange diameter
* 2cm flange thickness
* 7cm bore hole diameter
* 2cm bore hole depth
* 2.5cm overall height
* 1cm * 1cm AZ pin width

And here's a final product made by a local friend. And so we put everything together, we have:-

The counter weight tied to the leg is due to a poor angle from inside my home, if you align the mount briefly to the north point leg, it's not needed. Actually, if one extends the tripod fully, it won't be required, too.

And more to follow, like how to fine tune the mount, clean it and re-greasing. Have a search for "My LXD55" later.

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