Meade LXD-75 GEM Mount
By: Vlad Fedosov
Finding a perfect mount depends on a lot of different considerations. Does the Meade LXD-75 Mount fit any criteria for a perfect mount? I think that most looking for an astrophotography, precision GOTO, or a mount that does it all; would say no. For me however, the LXD-75 has been a perfect mount for about 6-7 years, with its predecessor the LXD-55 that serving in its place previous years. The LXD75 is a low-medium weight capacity mount that is rated at a carry capacity of 30lb. This mount is based on a Vixen design, and has many more clone siblings out there such as the CG5. It is fully GOTO capable.
Most of my equipment reviews are written after I purchase or borrow a new piece of astro gear. I would then test it out for at least one good observing session. For this review, I’m really giving you all of the observations and thoughts that I have accumulated about this mount in its use over many years. Now that I think about it I have held on to this mount for one of the longest times out of any of my astro equipment.
Visually I think this is a beautiful mount and I really like Meade’s choice of the matte white powder coat that has a very slight texture to it. I think that this coating looks much better than the gray/black coating that Celestron uses on their variants of this mount. The coatings have held up really well on the mount with just a few nicks here and there from transporting it.
In the years that I have owned the LXD75 I have had many scopes provide a pleasurable evening of observing atop it. Some of the scopes that I can think of from the top of my head include: c8, c9.25, Orion 180 Mak, Meade EXT125, Meade 8” Light Bridge OTA, Meade 127ED, William Optics GT102, Lunt 102ED, Astro Tech 80ED CF. There are many more that I’m sure that I have forgotten. Out of the scopes listed above there where none that I felt the mount could not handle for visual use. Now they are all under the 30lb rated capacity of the mount so this should not be a surprise. The c9.25 and Meade 127ED did come close to what I would consider overloading the mount. The vibration dampening times where above 3 seconds with these scopes and overall the mount did feel a bit stressed. The scopes that I have used most on this mount are 8” SCT’s and 4” APO’s. Both these scopes are very comfortable on this mount and I feel are the sweet spot as the entire assembly can be carried out to observe in one piece. I really think that the carry capacity of this mount should be set at 20lb. Anything over that will be pushing it even for high power visual use.
Astrophotography is not something that I’m currently doing and have honestly not tried on the LXD75 at all. I have however dabbled in it years ago on my old LXD55 with a William Optics 80mm FD and a DSLR. I found that I could get unguided 30-60 second exposures quite well with this setup. I’m sure that the LXD75 will be even better for astrophotography as it does have ball bearings compared to the plastic bushings of the LXD55. I do think that with a wide field/light weight setup that I described you can get some decent results if you are just getting into astrophotography on a budget.
I’m not much of a GOTO guy and usually prefer to find objects manually in the sky. Most of the time the mount was used in this manner, with just the tracking going. The mount works really well for this kind of observing as long as you have everything properly balanced. I have used the GOTO on a few occasions and found that it was plenty accurate enough to place objects of the FOV. With a mount like this I think there is going to be quite a bit of variability from one unit to another as far as GOTO accuracy goes. This is also something that a bit of tweaking will usually help out. Speaking of tweaking, I have had to adjust the backlash and worm gear meshing on my mount two times in the time I have owned it. If you are going to consider a mount in this Vixen clone class you should be prepared to do at least a bit of tweaking here and there.
The AutoStar interface that most of the Meade GOTO scopes use is quite intuitive. I think that it’s very natural for me to use it since I have used it so such a long time. I do find that Celestron’s hand boxes do have a bit of a better display then the AutoStar and the buttons are just easier to push and use. The Autostar include a library of about 30,000 objects that are ready to GOTO. A neat thing that you can do is download guided tours into your AutoStar. Many of these tours are available online. You for instance can download a tour of the best DSO for the current month. This makes it easy for a beginner to explore a variety of different objects of for even for the seasoned astro veteran to have a laid back evening visiting some old DSO friends.
I find that the LXD75 is just a good all around grab and go mount. Is it the most stable, or the most accurate mount out there? No. Does it require a bit of tweaking from time to time(or when you first purchase it)? Yes! I think that if you are ok with accepting these limitations you will be very happy with the LXD75 mount. I have found that for the purely visual non GOTO type of observing that I like to do, for me this is the perfect mount.