Meade LX850 StarLock equatorial mount and tripod only


Availability: In stock

Combine a robust 90 pound payload capacity with the revolutionary new StarLock full-time automated integrated photoguide system and you have the Meade LX850 go-to equatorial mount – the most complete high precision astro-imaging mount available.

Our Product #: LX850
Meade Product #: 37-0850-00

Product Description

This Meade LX850 mount has:
90 pound payload capacity
AutoStar II computer hand control with 144,000+ object go-to library
16-channel GPS system
StarLock full-time automatic guiding for 1 arc second drive accuracy when viewing or imaging
Adjustable height giant field tripod

This Meade LX850 mount has . . .

Meade StarLock full-time automatic guiding German equatorial mount: 90 pound payload capacity machined stainless steel and aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum mount weighing approximately 127 pounds, including supplied standard single 18 pound counterweight and tripod. It uses a 1.75" stainless steel RA shaft. 225 tooth 5.8" diameter aluminum right ascension and declination drive gears, driven by DC servo motors turning 0.68" diameter precision-machined brass worms.

The mount will track 20 degrees past the meridian during imaging. This makes longer exposures possible without having to "tumble" the tube to avoid having the optical tube bump into the mount and interrupt the exposure.

The RA and dec shafts ride on precision roller bearings for rock-solid tracking. There are home sensors on each axis. The 12 volt 5 amp DC mount is powered by a supplied 110-120 volt 60 Hz universal AC power supply. Internal cabling prevents cable snags and tangles.

With a 90 pound payload capacity, and optional counterweights readily available to balance virtually any load, the Meade LX850 mount can be the heart of a very competent and flexible optical system for imaging and viewing. The dovetail on the mount head will accept both Vixen-style and Losmandy-style D-plate dovetail bars, giving you great flexibility in choosing other optical tubes for the mount to support. You can use it to hold large catadioptric and Cassegrain optical tubes, refractors, reflectors, dual scope systems, and more. The sky is virtually the limit with the Meade LX850 mount as the centerpiece of your observing/imaging system.

Counterweights: One 18 pound stainless steel counterweight is provided for precise payload balancing on the 1.75" diameter threaded stainless steel counterweight shaft. Combined with the 17.8 pound weight of the counterweight shaft, this single counterweight is enough to balance the weight of an approximately 25 pound optical tube. Additional optional 26 pound stainless steel weights are available (#CWTLX850), with each additional weight increasing the payload capacity by approximately 30 pounds.

Tripod: The Meade 36 lb. giant field tripod adjusts from a height of 29" to 45" and damps vibrations quickly. It has 3" diameter stainless steel legs, with a center leg brace for rigidity. A single threaded rod with a large hand-tighten knob simultaneously holds the equatorial head firmly on the tripod and locks the tripod legs rigidly in the most stable position.

StarLock/GPS/AutoStar II computer system: A GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver is built into the mount. The GPS receiver, in conjunction with Meade's AutoStar II computer control and unique StarLock automatic guiding system, automatically aligns the scope on the sky so that the AutoStar II computer can locate for you the more than 144,000 stars and objects in its memory.

The system starts by having the GPS use the signals from Earth-orbiting satellites to determine the scope's position on Earth in three dimensions with an accuracy of a few meters and set the time with an accuracy of fractions of a second.

Then, the revolutionary Meade StarLock system takes over to model the sky overhead. StarLock - the heart of the LX850 - is a revolutionary new technology that makes target acquisition in your eyepiece and on your imaging sensor (and accurate guiding during viewing and imaging) completely automatic. With Meade's exclusive LightSwitch technology at its core, StarLock uses a two refractor/two camera system to automatically find your target with high precision, immediately capture a field star for guiding as dim as 11th magnitude, and then guide while you view or image. And it does it all with an incredible accuracy of +/- one arc second.

The built-in StarLock cameras include a super wide angle 25mm f/1.04 optic with a 1/2 inch format CMOS sensor that has a field measuring 14.72 x 11.78 degrees for star field acquisition, and a narrow angle 80mm f/5 refractor with a 1/2 inch format CMOS sensor that has a field of 57.2 x 45.8 arc minutes (with a resolution of 2.68 arc seconds/pixel) for precise centering.

StarLock achieves its exceptional +/- one arc second accuracy because, unlike add-on guiders, the StarLock cameras are firmly attached to the moving equatorial head itself (not the optical tube where it might get misaligned during use as is possible when using a separate photoguide scope attached to the optical tube). In addition, StarLock is integrated into the telescope control system and communicates directly with the motor controllers in real time with a maximum precision of 0.01 arc seconds. There's no need for a separate guide scope and computer and the StarLock system requires no calibration, no user focusing, and no manual guide star selection.

StarLock even automatically programs periodic error correction into the drive and then corrects any other errors down to virtually zero. StarLock also provides computer-assisted polar alignment using the drift method for extreme precision. No expensive shaft encoders or add-on guiding systems can provide this level of performance.

Once the Meade StarLock system has locked the scope on the night sky, the AutoStar II computer quickly and automatically moves the scope to any desired object with just a few strokes on the 20 backlit LED buttons on its hand control, guided by the readouts on its double line, 16 character liquid crystal display. The scope will move to your chosen object at a slewing speed of 3° per second and with a cantering accuracy typically in the +/- one arc minute range. Once on the selected object, it will flawlessly track the object while you observe or image at your leisure. Available tracking rates include 0.01x to 1x sidereal; 2x, 8x, and 16x sidereal; and 1/4°, 1/2°, 1°, and 3° per second.

Tracking modes include EQ North and EQ South. Alignment procedures include 2-Star Align, 1 Star Polar Align, and StarLock assisted semi-automatic drift alignment for ultra-precise polar alignment. High-precision guiding accuracy is +/- 1 arc second RMS (with good seeing). It has a 1 to 4 second correction update rate depending on the guide star magnitude. The faintest usable guide star can be as dim as 11th magnitude. In addition, the Meade AutoStar II computer provides numerous additional visual, tracking, and photographic tools and functions to make your observing easier and more enjoyable.

With its combination of a robust 90 pound payload capacity, and the revolutionary new StarLock full-time automated integrated photoguide system, this LX850 equatorial mount from Meade Instruments is the most complete single-source astro-imaging mount solution available. Meade calls it "the picture perfect platform for effortless astrophotography." Who are we to disagree?

Tech Details

Weight 127 lbs.
Warranty 1 year


Review by:
I dispensed with the clunky spreaders on the tripod in favor of my own simpler set of chains. This is a beast to handle alone because of the weight -it's a challenging lift to get the equatorial head up onto the tripod when the legs are fully extended for a long focus refractor! The polar alignment and calibration routines are cumbersome; I'd much prefer a polar alignment scope built into the polar axis. I've also had the StarLock fail to lock onto a guide star several times under clear, dark skies in the national parks of southern Utah ... quite frustrating! When I have succeeded in achieving polar alignment within 15' or less of the true celestial pole, I have obtained excellent astrophotos at 600 - 1200 mm effective focal lengths and up to eight minutes exposures with my apochromatic refractors. I'm not a fan of the threaded declination axis - it's a pain getting the counterweight started onto the threads at the end of the shaft, and then walking the counterweight up the threads ... I believe this mount may be better suited to a fixed observatory installation. It's a challenge to transport , set up, align and calibrate as a mobile platform. (Posted on 12/6/2018)
Review by:
My 70 lb SCT tube burned up the DEC axis motor within a month. Meade eventually replaced it under warranty. It strained so hard I switched to a 50 lb refractor and its doing OK so far. Supplied tripod is wimpy, I put it on Losmandy tripod . The Starlock guide works if you keep the weight down. Would not buy another. (Posted on 11/4/2018)
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