Meade 8" Lightbridge Truss-tube Dobsonian Deluxe

I wanted a simple scope for banging around in the yard.  Something that had minimal setup time and required the fewest trips around to the garage to get bits and pieces.  I figured a small Dob was the ticket.  I leave the OTA assembled, so two trips brings it all out, and no setup time.  A third trip is required if I want to get my eyepiece case.

I choose the Meade for the truss rod assembly.  It saves a little space, not a lot, but a little.

Purchased from Hands On Optics, May 2009.  Kudos to Gary and company for not only having free shipping on this, but for sending it FedEx.  I ordered on Wednesday and had it on Saturday.

Meade no longer lists the Standard Lightbridge.  The Deluxe has upgraded rocker box bearings, 2" wide angle eyepiece and an upgraded 1x finder.  Check their web site for all of the specs. 

It is manufactured in Taiwan, at least that's what the boxes say.  It was packed in two separate boxes, one with the telescope and the other box contained the rocker box.  The only defect I found was a teflon pad knocked off of the rocker box that is not even required on the Deluxe version.  There are numerous discrepancies in the printed instructions, versus the actual scope, such as bolting together the rocker box, batteries for the fan, etc.  Nothing earth shattering, just makes you stop and think a moment.

Collimination - The instructions may confuse first time Newtonian users as it refers to offsetting the diagonal.  This is a requirement for even field illumination for photography, it is not normally a factor in visual use.  Meade claims to have aligned the scope prior to shipping.  Sure they did.  Using a 2" Kendrick laser, the dot was on the outer edge of the primary.  The diagonal is challenging to adjust due to its lightweight construction.  The primary not only has adjustment bolts, but also lockdown bolts.  It took a few moments to find the right tensions to keep from shifting the primary when locking it down.

Optics - typical low cost Newtonian performance.  Nothing to write home about, nothing to complain about.  I see no obvious flaws - no turned edge, acceptable roughness.

Diagonal

Diagonal - The  spider is lightweight.  Adjusting the diagonal is a challenge as the spider flexes as you adjust the screws.  Replacing the Phillips head screws with allen heads would make adjustments a lot easier since you wouldn't have to push to keep a screwdriver engaged.

Eyepiece

26mm QX Wide-Angle eyepiece (2") - 12 oz.

The only specs I can find is 5 elements, 70 degree FOV.  (Normal Erfle spec)

Not a great eyepiece, not a bad one either.  Good eye relief and wide FOV makes it pleasurable to use.  Field curvature is minor, fairly sharp across the field. 

Notice the extension tube, it is provided with the scope and is required for most 2" eyepieces. 

finder

1x Finder - A nice unit.  Four reticules - plain dot, dot with circle, crosshair, crosshair with circle.  It also has 7 fixed illumination levels.  The only negatives is it requires an allen wrench to adjust aim and it is a bit too bright, even at the lowest level. 

Same unit as Orion's #07227 - fits current Orion finder scope dovetail base so it is easy to swap from scope to scope, or swap for a magnifying finder for the really elusive objects.

A short web search turned up the manufacture - Sightmark.  As I suspected, it is a low cost pistol sight rebadged for Orion and Meade.

Focuser

Crayford-style Focuser - Pretty rough and cheap.  The tension has to be very tight to even work with the included eyepiece, my 31mm Nagler requires a whole lot more tension.  A slight turn of the tension knob and the tube slams to the bottom.  There is also a focus lock knob.

There is a fair amount of image shift when focusing, however it is manageable.  It is better than most rack and pinion focusers I've used.  It does not even come close in comparison to my NGF focusers, however, they cost close to what this whole scope cost.

Fan

Fan - a muffin fan on the bottom of the lower tube draws air down around the mirror.  It does impart a minor vibration at some viewing altitudes.  Powered by a AA battery pack (8) that just plugs into the jack on the top of the picture.  Cord is long enough that you can set the pack in the bottom of the rocker box and have 100% motion.

Notice there is no screen.  You won't cut yourself, if the batteries are installed properly so the fan is spinning the right direction, but it could really startle you if you got a finger in it. 

Bearing

Rocker box bearing - a lazy-susan style roller bearing set, sandwiched between two sheet metal plates.  Motion is smooth, if somewhat noisy.  Tension knob also has a small ball bearing plate to keep things smooth and easy.

Notice the Teflon pads on the out edge of the ground board.  One of these is what was knocked loose in shipping.  With the bearing plate installed, these pads don't have any contact.

Tension

Tension adjustment - I only have to use this with the 31mm Nagler.  A small Teflon pad clamps against the altitude hub rim.   Motion remains smooth.

Felt

Saddle - felt lined.  So far works very well, motions are smooth and predictable.  Provides enough tension to work with all but my 31mm Nagler.

I'm curious as to how long the felt lasts before it takes a set or polish and becomes too slick to work well.  It will be easy to replace if necessary.

Upper

Upper truss connection - the truss rods are attached as pairs so there are only three rod assemblies to keep track of.  The knob is captive and threads into a boss on the upper cage assembly.  Alignment is positive.

Lower

Lower truss connection - rods clamp into lower tube assembly.  The ends of the truss rods have holes punched in them and there are corresponding short studs in the clamp bracket.  It is easy to not get them mated and will lead to gross collimination errors if not careful.  Knob and clamp are captive. 

To assemble the scope the truss connections have to remain loose until they are all installed.  I find it best to hold down on the upper cage to seat the rods into the clamp while tightening the lower knobs, then tighten the upper knobs.

I'm going to mark the rods so they are installed in the same location each time, this should help retain collimination.

Overall the scope is a good buy at Meade's new lower price.  Quality seems to be better than some of the latest Meade offerings.  How it compares to the other low-cost Dobs I can't say until I can get alongside of one and do some direct comparison.

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