Safe Procedures for Lifting the LX200
Leveling Procedures the LX200

MAPUG-Astronomy Topical Archive     AstroDesigns


Subject: Technique for Lifting 12" LX200 --Part 1 of 7     Top

From: Balthasar Indermuehle <>

Always keep a straight back. Never bend over to lift anything heavy. Do all the lifting work out of your legs!

The following situation is assumed:
The scope is in its foam box on the floor. The tripod plus Superwedge is setup sturdily in a place that can be reached by foot without climbing stairs and opening or closing doors. It's also advantageous to not have cables, trip wires and the like lying around on the floor. Also, you should be wearing a belt (please don't use the new Armani belt your wife gave you this Christmas. Try it with a thick leather belt, Levi's style)

  1. Make sure the RA and Dec screws are loose.
  2. Lift the wedge and pull it by the handles downwards, so the drivebase rests on the foam, exposing the bottom plate where you attach the screws.
  3. Attach the top screw that slides into the Superwedge. Make sure there's plenty of space between the screws' head and the base. Also make sure the screw is in far enough. Get the tool you need to fasten the screws and the other two screws and have them handy in one of your pockets.
  4. Lock the RA so that the front panel is facing you.
  5. Lift the wedge so it points upwards at an approx. 30 deg angle and lock the Dec. Don't apply too much pressure in any direction now!
  6. With one leg kneel down in front of the wedge, grab it from behind by the handles (sort of embrace it / bend over it) and decide which side of the OTA you want your head to rest and gently lift it out of the foam. Make sure the wedge rests on your right or left upper thigh while doing that. The other leg controls balance. This works best if you apply enough back balance (makes you feel like you'll tip over backwards. But the scope is heavy enough. Be careful anyway!)
  7. ou're now cheek to cheek with your darling and the wedge rests on your thigh. Pull it up a bit so the drive base rests on top of your belt.
  8. Slowly stand up. Remember to keep a straight back. The OTA looks now backward and rests on your shoulder/cheek while the drivebase/wedge is being held by your belt and (ideally) very little muscle.
  9. Walk over to the Superwedge and simply slide in the screw. Now, this is important: WHILE staying under the scope (i.e. it's still resting on your shoulder) you may free your hands from the wedge and grab the tool from your pocket. Fasten the screw not too tightly, but just tight enough. Then once you're sure the screw holds the weight, grab the other screws, walk around the tripod and attach them too.
  10. The exact same procedure in reverse applies to taking it down.


Subject: Technique for lifting 12" LX200--Part 2      Top

From: Michael Hart

I use the 12" LX200 because the image scale is right for the objects I'm interested in. You can barlow a smaller scope to increase image scale, but the exposures increase 4X as well. Since I'm in good health, I would hate to compromise my primary need because of lifting techniques.

For those with the larger 12" LX200, try changing your technique so your strength is better utilized. I am 5' 10", 155 lbs., can and do lift the 12" with accessories without much difficulty (for me) to the Giant Field Tripod with Superwedge installed. Here's how:

  1. I tip the scope tube all the way forward on the Dec bearings so the front of the tube just touches the fork. I install the scope drive base top bolt for the wedge slot far enough that will result in about 1/4" of tightening needed after installation. I place my hands so my left hand is on the leftfront fork handle and my right hand is on the right-rear fork handle.
  2. I then keep the scope near my body and between my legs a bit with my back straight. I lift straight up using my lower body strength and momentum to assist my upper body to allow getting under the weight by quickly lowering my lower body a bit at the point my lower body is fully extended.
  3. Then, with my back remaining straight, I finish with my upper body so the optical tube is balanced on my shoulder almost touching my neck. All this is done in one continuous, smooth motion.
  4. I then balance the scope on my right shoulder with the drive base resting on my right chest at approximately the correct wedge altitude angle. Finally, I methodically move the drive base to the Superwedge, placing the drive base bolt that I can see in the wedge slot with full control and no undo strain.


Subject: Lifting an LX200--Part 3   Top

From: Jim McKay

I've been patiently waiting on the sidelines for the storm to blow over before venturing back into the list, but I do have a question that's been bugging me. I've heard several people describe the "best" methods of lifting, carrying, and mounting the LX scope. As a beginner to the LX200 ranks and as someone who is more visual than verbal in the way that I learn things, it would be useful to me and maybe to others, if someone who was experienced at hefting the LX scopes could either post a series of photos or even a short video clip of the process of putting an LX scope on a mount. It would be useful to me to see the process rather than read about it. It would also be nice to see the scope put both in alt-az and polar configurations.


Subject: Lifting an LX200--Part 4

From: Al

Lifting and setting up the LX200 is one of the first chores we learn, and most of us take for granted. For this reason, I don't expect that you will ever see a pictorial on how to best accomplish this task...but I may be wrong. Maybe, in the meantime, these few tips will help you:

I have owned an 8" LX200 and currently own a 10" LX200. Since the 8" only weighs 38 pounds and doesn't represent any real problems, I expect that you must be dealing with a 10" or larger. If this is the case, you will find that using a ScopeSaver table will make this set up task go much faster and easier. You can see pictures and details of this accessory at
   <> go to accessories and scroll down.
  The ScopeSaver is only useful when setting up in Alt-Az mode.

When setting the scope in polar mode with a wedge, it is best to install the wedge on the tripod first. Before lifting the scope onto the wedge, loosely fit a bolt into the rear most mounting hole on the fork base (make sure you turn it in about 3 turns). Lift the fork/scope onto the wedge and allow that bolt to slide into the slot on the wedge's safe to let it hang there for a moment until you can install the other 2 bolts. Hope this helps.


Subject: Lifting an LX200--Part 5     Top

From: Tom Wideman <>

I do three things that are helpful to me, not all of which are required but they're my personal procedures as it were.

1. I have a bungee cord around the forks and OTA, just below the handles (I have a 10") and just above the end cap, which keep the OTA from swinging in the forks when getting the scope into and out of the case and when lifting and mounting.

2. I modified my tripod with a spring arrangement so the central bolt can press down into the hole and not put pressure on the base of the scope. I have pics at:

<>. This mod was based on the description provided by Rob Roy in the MAPUG Topical Archive, Member's Designs & Products topic.

3. I use a ScopeSaver which makes leveling and alignment very simple and easy. I like the full-size one for the EP holders and the keypad holder (although I had to mod mine because of the Rob Roy joystick), but I've seen the Jr. model and it works just as well.

As to hefting my scope, I usuallly have a handle in one hand, and actually grab the crook in the fork (in that little recess underneath the bend in the fork) in the other; I feel it gives me better control. After picking it up, I hug it close to my body (gotta give that LX200 a little love before use, right?) and pretty much keep it there until setting it on the tripod/scopesaver/pizza pan (depending on the setup).

While I would seriously miss having one or both handles missing, I personally find it clumsy trying to control the manhandling of the scope with both handles, and find the above works better for me.


Subject: Lifting an LX200--Part 6   Top

From: Leroy Guatney <>

Imentioned the photo in the manual that shows two hands up and somewhat outstretched holding the LX200 fork from the underneath side. The 12" has handles on both sides of the fork, I think the 8 and 10's have only one pair. This picture as I see it, reminds me more of the same pose a weight-lifter might strike as he/she would heft the barbels (sp?) to one's chest before pushing them on up above one's head. But the wrist angle is different because you are holding vertical handles instead of a horizontal bar with weights.

On page 27 of my manual (the page after the photo), they describe the installation of the bolt (as described on this list earlier). Then they say:

"Grasping the fork arms of the telescope firmly, with the power panel towards you, place the telescope onto the tilt plate of the wedge ...", so they don't really mention placing the OTA on one's shoulder. I had said I'd do it that way.

It may be a small point, but I just noticed looking at the photo again, that OTA appears to be aligned to Dec=00. That could be just a pose position for the photo, but may also be a practical idea.

My 12" stows at Dec=90 since it can not swingthrough the fork (Dec=-90). Since it is already in that position, I leave it there for mounting to the wedge.

It also helps that in my standard mode of operation, my soft case is lying flat and somewhat elevated either on the patio, and me on the grass, or deploying from the back cargo section of my Dodge Caravan. Since the bumper of the van blocks my getting right along side the scope, I usually put a foot up and into the van.

I grab the handle farthest from me, tilt the fork/OTA up on it's side in the foam. Then with both hands and handles, I lift that baby up and away from the case. In the van, I step back from the overhead back door before I rotate the whole assembly to match how the base must attach to the tripod and wedge. Then I benchpress that baby up and onto my shoulder.

It is much more stable. Of course I am 6'2" and much bigger than the 70 lbs of the OTA/fork.

I think that is about the best I can do. I certainly saves my back. It may be rather Paul Bunyan'esque, but it works well. Like I said, it took a few times of getting this down.


Subject: Lifting an LX200--Part 7 of 7    Top

From: John Hilliard <>

If you go to the website below, and check the "Stewart Sled" you can see several methods of taking the scope out set up on the tripod in one piece. There was just recently added a method of taking out a 10" on a wedge. We use the sled for our 8" LX200...unfortunately, turns and door sizes do not allow us to move our 12" out in the same manner.

   Note: should open a new window over this one.

A note, we had a Celestron 11" on a wedge and when we carried it out, I found it much easier to set the scope on the wedge with the wedge plate horizontal, then crank the wedge up to the proper latitude angle. You have to do a bit of adjusting each time you move the tripod and polar align anyway.


LX200 Leveling Procedures


Subject: Optimized LX200 AltAz Leveling Procedures  Top

From: Bill Arnett <>

Neither the crude leveling technique in the Meade manual nor the techniques in the LX200 FAQ seem very good to me. The bubble level is simply not accurate and the procedure in the FAQ requires an awkward step: "You will need to lengthen on leg B AND shorten leg C (or vice versa) in equal amounts to not mess up the first leveling." So I cooked up the following (it is really a lot easier than it looks). The key is to first level along a line containing two of the legs. Even though this means that the leg adjustment is not along the line being measured it still works:

Optimized LX200 AltAz Leveling Technique:

  1. Very roughly level the tripod before attaching the scope.
  2. Observe which corner is highest; call this corner Leg A; all adjustment will be to the other two Legs, B and C.
  3. Mount the scope.
  4. Free the RA lock.
  5. Tighten the Dec lock.
  6. Roughly level the OTA by setting the Dec to zero on the circle using the manual Dec knob.
  7. Put a torpedo level on top of the OTA.
  8. Rotate the OTA so that it is perpendicular to the line between the center and Leg C (i.e. parallel to the line between Legs A and B).
  9. Set the hour circle to 0 (just for reference); the OTA should now point along the line 0...12 in the diagram below.
  10. Center the bubble by adjusting Leg B.
  11. Spin the OTA 180 degrees in azimuth (to 12 on the hour circle).
  12. If the bubble is still centered go to step 16.
  13. Remove HALF of the level error by adjusting the manual Dec knob.
  14. Spin 180 degrees again.
  15. Go to step 10.
  16. Spin 90 degrees (to 6 on the hour circle).
  17. Center the bubble by adjusting Leg C.
  18. Verify that the bubble doesn't move when the OTA is rotated thru a full 360 degrees. If it does, go back to step 10.
  19. Point south, power up, do a 1- or 2-star alignment and surf the sky!
leveling diagramA, B, & C are Legs; 0, 6, & 12 are arbitrary directions



a. Step 2 (picking the highest Leg) isn't very important; if you blow it you'll just have to adjust Leg A a bit, too during steps 10-14.

b. (Step 7) Gadget lovers may use a digital "SmartLevel" instead of a torpedo level. Instead of a boring bubble, a SmartLevel has a digital LCD readout showing the angle in tenths of a degree. It is also very easy to read; no squinting and guessing about the center of the bubble. Financially challenged astronomers will note, however, that a quick check in the hardware store showed that a $10 torpedo level is just as accurate (near the zero point, anyway) as the $100 SmartLevel.

c. Step 9 (setting the hour circle) is just for reference during this procedure; it has no external significance. The azimuth positions need not be very precise.

d. Steps 10-14 level on the line between Legs A and B NOT along the line between Leg B and the center as is usually the case; this makes leveling the last Leg (step 17) much easier.

e. Steps 10-14 also get the OTA parallel to the ground by eliminating any error around the Dec axis; the iterative nature of this procedure (step 15) is necessary since It seems to converge 3 or 4 iterations.

f. Leveling the last Leg is easy because the Dec axis error has already been eliminated.

g. After doing this once and with the OTA perfectly level adjust the Dec circle to zero; subsequent levelings will go much faster since there will be little Dec axis error.

h. This will go somewhat easier if you do it before attaching all the wires, especially the Dec motor cord.


Subject: Tripod/Mount Leveling Procedures  Top

From: Rob Roy <>

For tripod/mount leveling, an ordinary cheap plastic line-level works extremely well. I'm too short to see the bubble level AND move legs at the same time. Hopping up and down and back and forth wasn't tolerated for very long when I first got my scope.

The line level was first calibrated by judicious filing of its bottom while checking on a carpenter's level. It is glued to the base near the RA lock, parallel E/W line of the housing. I can easily see it even when way down by the leg height-adjusting knobs. A flashlight can be shined on it if you're setting up in the dark. If you place one leg and the scope facing south, the west leg will adjust the E-W level. Turn the scope 90 deg. to face E and the south leg will let you level the N-S plane.

Most of the time, leveling is done in less than a minute. For the wedge (since it doesn't rotate) I have two of these line-levels placed on the N and W sides to adjust the legs the same way. Keep them out of the way of wedge-securing knobs.


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