This is an attractive package: the tripod has substantial, 50mm diameter stainless steel legs and the spreader, head and counterweights have a tough powder-coated creamy white finish.
Power is provided by a 12V battery pack, which takes eight D-size batteries (not included).
The extendable legs are each held with two thumbscrews.
We found it uncomfortably hard to screw these in, but they held the legs firmly in place.
The maximum height of the LDX75 is 143cm, which is quite low.
There is no bubble level to help level the tripod, but a quality illuminated polar finderscope helps you achieve good alignment.
Once set up, the mount needed firm tightening using the T-handle under the spreader to close up any gaps and stop wobbling.
Although not overly heavy, the head is a well-made, chunky piece of engineering.
Moulded marks on the casing helpfully indicate the ‘home’ position for the mount (weights placed straight down and telescope pointing directly towards the pole) to start the alignment process.
Our test model was supplied with just one counterweight, although the recommended load was 13kg.
We noticed a fair amount of play in the RA axis, which we suspect was due to poorly meshed gears.
It is possible to inspect them through an opening in the drive cover and make adjustments to the gear alignment.
The AutoStar handset is a well-established controller, which is sold with a variety of Meade mounts.
Although there are three holes for 1.25-inch accessories in the spreader, there is nowhere here to rest the handset
. The controller’s red LED display was nice and easy to read, especially when the equipment became dew covered.
The buttons didn’t have any special menu functions (such as ‘Planet’ or ‘Rate’) like some otehr Go-Tos, so an ‘up-down-select’ menu has to be accessed for every action.
Like all Go-To hand controllers, setup involves inputting your location selected from a list of countries and cities, followed (each time you use it) by date, time and daylight saving.
The Meade also requires you to enter the telescope model, since the same controller is supplied with other Meade setups that all have different specs.
Then a drive-training exercise must be carried out. We found the whole procedure pretty long-winded, especially if you make a mistake and have to do it again.
AutoStar allows for one-, two- or three-star alignment and the accuracy certainly improves with each.
We found that the Go-To accuracy was spot on for the east side of the mount, with all targets very close to the centre of a 20mm eyepiece at 45x magnification.
It was slightly less accurate on the west side, which we put down to the play in the RA drive.
Tracking was very good – our target star remained well aligned for 50 minutes before drifting became noticeable.
Despite tedious menu navigation and noisy motors, this is a well-engineered and very capable mount.
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This review appeared in the July 2010 issue of Sky at Night Magazine