LX200 Saddle Mount
I have come upon a number of LX200 mounts that were languishing because the OTAs were taken off of them and put on a variety of GEM mounts. The idea being that the OTAs were good and the GEM mounts much better than the original LX200 mounts. To a considerable extent this was true. The Meade LX200 mounts were generally not precise enough for long exposure imaging, especially with the full focal length of a 10 or 12 inch telescope. The focal lengths were in the 2000 to 3000 mm range. However, with much shorter focal lengths such as used in wide field imaging these mounts could hold their own fairly well. It makes no sense to reduce a 2000 to 3000 mm focal length telescope to under 1000 mm with a focal reducer since the optical quality of the image suffers significantly. Thus many imagers use telescopes in the 500 to 1000 mm range for wider field imaging.
I have taken a number of the LX200 mounts and put a saddle like plate in place of the original OTA. This Saddle Plate (SP) allows for mounting any number of short telescopes and their imaging accessories on the LX200 mount. This arrangement also accommodates viewing as well as imaging. It is very nice to have a fine small refractor in a full GOTO mount. One can have this GOTO mount carry almost any telescope of reasonable size. I have mounted TeleVue 3 and 4 inch scopes, like my TeleVue NP 101, as well as many others on my modified LX200 mounts. It is very nice to have a full GOTO mount for some of the smaller refractors which are normally on non-GOTO mounts or very simple GEM mounts. The TV was originally on a TeleVue so called Gibraltar mount. I call it the "pebble of Gibraltar." It is not very satisfactory for astronomical imaging at all since it has no drive of any kind. The LX200 Saddle Mounted scope has, in both the Alt/Azm and Equatorial modes full tracking and guiding functions. The Saddle Mount I made using 10" LX mounts will actually take a scope up to about 9 inches with no trouble at all. Thus one can mount almost any refractor, small SCT, a MAK or even an SCT up to 9 inches on this saddle. Since the LX200 mount is designed to handle a 12" SCT OTA, which weight about 40 pounds, it will easily handle a TeleVue NP101 or a Takahashi 106 or equivalent telescope which weigh in the area of 15 to 20 pounds.
The photos below show several views of one of the Saddle Mounts in my shop with a TeleVue Ranger on the bottom for guiding and a William Optics Megrez 80 II APO Triplet in the saddle. If smaller refractors are mounted, the saddle will take two of them at the same time. Or if one chooses, a camera with a regular telephoto lens can be mounted along with a telescope. I have done an under-over design with these mounts so a small telescope can be mounted underneath the saddle and be used as a dedicated guider tube. This makes the LX200 mount and saddle essentially a pointing platform which can be locked to the sky. When mounted on the wedge, of course, one has a functional imaging platform with no field rotation for any imaging use.
I want to thank Ted Agos <lester(AT)ziplink.net> <http://www.ziplink.net/%7Elester/saddle-1.htm> for the idea of making these mounts and for providing two of the several saddles I have used. The saddle shown in the photos is one of his design.