The New LXD 75 10" Schmidt Newtonian from Meade

Posted by Chris Provost   09/08/2004 07:00AM

Let me start of by saying that the LXD 55 was the first real scope I had ever owned. This should give you an idea of how long I have been in the hobby.


The Meade LXD 75 series is modeled after the 55 series. The 55 series had a lot of problems; loose set screws on the gears, tons of backlash, and worst of all a flimsy three legged device that Meade claims was a tripod. The 75 series boasts a new tubular leg tripod, virtually backlash free mount, periodic error correction, and a free Lunar Planetary Imager (LPI). The 75 series also has a new white paint job.

It's Here:

On August 27th, I was waiting in the garage for the UPS man. I knew he was coming as I was hawkishly tracking his every movement for 2 weeks. "Here he comes", I shouted as I tried not to run to meet him. Frankly, I think I startled the driver as I snatched the "Made in China" embossed boxes from his truck. He wanted to help but I refused, I was not taking a chance with my new baby. I quickly carried the monstrous boxes in the house. What do I open first?

The Tripod:

Let's start with the tripod. I was very interested to see if the tripod was a big improvement over the 55's or just marginal. Well, let me say, it is a HUGE improvement. The tripod when fully retracted is shorter than the 55 series; this is a blessing to the vertically challenged like me. The tubular legs and spreader are rock solid. The tripod has two polished aluminum leg locking bolts per leg. The fit and finish of the tripod is very nice. I read a post on the LXD 75 user group that the assembly instructions did not show how to install the tripod head bushing and "C" clip. Instructions? Who reads those anyway? Meade has updated their online manual which shows the proper configuration, I recommend new users take a look at this. The tripod is assembled and I must say it looks very sharp. On to the mount.....

The LXD 75 Mount:

Upon unpacking the mount I was taken back by the new paint scheme. The mounts fit and finish is another huge improvement. I attached the mount to the tripod. I then began to look for the usual problems that the 55 had. I found none! The gears are well meshed, no backlash or play in either axis. The declination axis is silky smooth as is the right ascension. The dovetail locking bolt is much larger than the 55 and is polished aluminum. The polar scope reticule has a dimming switch with a positive on and off feature. I am very pleased so far.

The 10" Optical tube Assembly:

I removed the OTA from its protective packaging. The paint is different from the 55 as it has an "orange peel" texture. The focuser has been changed a little. It has larger focus knobs and they are also polished aluminum. The focuser comes with both a 2" and 1 1/4" eyepiece holder, and also a T-adapter. The finder is a new and improved 8x50. This is a world apart from the 55's 6x30. Another improvement is that the interior of the OTA is very dark black. The 55 series interior was more grey than black hopefully the darker interior will help with contrast. Other than the changes I mentioned before the OTA is much the same as the 55 series.

First Light:

I must say that I beat the new scope curse and the same evening I received my 75 the skies were clear. I setup my 75 and did a One Star alignment. I then selected M-31, pressed GOTO and the scope took off. Slewing stopped and the Autostar gave me the go ahead and look beep. I put my eye to the 26mm supplied super plossel. There was Andromeda just off of center. I then centered M31 and synched on it. Next M27. Again the same thing just out of center. I centered and synced again, taking note of the noticeable contrast difference from the 55. Off to the Veil I went. With a Lumicon OIII filter the Veil jumped out at me through the eyepiece. To M-13 I go. With my 12mm type 4 Nagler M-13 was easily resolved into individual stars and was simply breathtaking. Now the moon is becoming a factor so I tore down and went inside. Three nights later I setup again. Not to bore you with the details I will say just this: I saw 27 DSO, in less than 3 hours. Goto's were great and I tracked Altair at 396X for 45 minutes with virtually no drift. Tracking was smooth at 396X. Star testing was nearly textbook, concentric rings on both sides of focus.

Final Impressions:

Things I didn't like:

I was missing a screw in my primary mirror cell. This was easily fixed though. The new 10" OTA is slightly heavier than the 55 series. The heavier OTA will not balance with the supplied weights. A call to Meade got me another weight. I have heard that they will be supplying longer counterweight shafts from here on out. This is a much better solution to the problem than adding more weight to an already at its limit mount (with the 10"). I was missing my LPI in the initial shipment. Another call to Meade. The rep said the LPI was on its way and I received it 2 days later. The tripod leg locking knobs are a little small; T-handles would have been a better choice. The focuser still has room for improvement. At this price point these problems are very insignificant.

Things I liked:

I am impressed with the quality and performance in the LXD 75. It is a huge improvement over the 55 series.
The mount is smooth and performed very well. The Schmidt Newtonian gave great performance and wide fields, and surprisingly well corrected @ F/4. The tripod is substantial and well matched to the weight. Factor the free LPI (Lunar Planetary Imager), and price in and this is nothing short of a steal. Don't forget the spiffy new paint job. I am very, very pleased with the purchase. I would recommend it with out hesitation.

Clear Skies,

Chris Provost

Click here for more about the Meade LXD75 SN-10AT 10" Schmidt-Newtonian. -Ed.