Sunday, August 20, 2006

Meade Telescope

Here's a letter I sent to Meade Instruments Corporation of Irvine, California, maker of the telescope I bought for my son for his birthday earlier this summer. I'm still in shock over the fact that they only provide lenses that cause the image to appear backward in the eyepiece, and that you have to buy an additional lens to get a correct image. And in the DVD that comes with the telescope, they say that this isn't a big deal!

Meade Instruments Corporation
6001 Oak Canyon
Irvine, CA 92618


Dear Ladies/Gentlemen:

It’s difficult to find words to express how disappointed I am with your company. I recently bought a telescope for my son for his 10th birthday, only to find out that the image in the telescope is backward. Try to imagine my shock upon learning, while watching the accompanying DVD, that this isn’t a big deal!

I contacted your customer support personnel by email and received a poorly written response in return that essentially said, “Go to our web site, find an authorized dealer, and order a different lens from them.” Why doesn’t an appropriate lens come with the telescope? Am I cynical to believe that you include the 90 degree lens with your telescopes, but not the 45 degree erect image prism, in order to make an additional $45 in sales when saps like me discover that what they’re viewing is backwards?

Looking at Jupiter and its moons may not require correct imaging, but looking at the moon sure does. And what about more terrestrial viewings?

I’ve already purchased the lens that should come with the telescope. It cost me over $45; it cost you any future purchases from me, because what you’ve done here isn’t right.

Sincerely,

No, no information regarding this phenomenon was listed on the box. You have to learn it from either the DVD or by actually looking in the eyepiece. I know that some telescopes present the image upside down--why would anyone tolerate that! Is asking to see a correct, non-inverted image too much to ask?

9 comments:

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Having the correct image first time, every time--without having to purchase an additional lens--is not too much to ask. Thanks for publicly identifying these ripoff artists. They deserve to see their business, er, thievery reduced to nothing.

Darren said...

If only I had that much influence!

And if they somehow make this right, I'll report that, too. In fact, I should post any response I get from them....

Anonymous said...

What a stupid reason to lose customers.

allen said...

I kinda hate to do this but I couldn't find an e-mail link so....the Meade folks haven't done anything wrong.

At first I thought you were just being a wise guy, sort of making fun of people who don't know something so transparently obvious that they'll complain because no one told them to, say, take warm clothes for a ski trip but I see you're sincere.

A simple lens system always reverses and inverts the image. When Douglas Fairbanks peers through his spy glass at the next hapless merchantman that he and his scurvy, pirate crew will plunder he sees it upside-down and left-to-right. When the camera shot that's supposed to be through that spyglass shows the other ship rightside up and and unflopped, that for the benefit of the audience which doesn't care that much about technical accuracy. That's what every telescope user since Galileo got used to because seeing the image in its proper orientation is not nearly as important as seeing the image, at least while observing the heavens.

Putting money into erecting an image whose orientation is immaterial doesn't make any sense and who cares if you're seeing Saturn's rings rightside up or upside down?

For terrestrial imaging the upside down image would be a problem if you weren't used to it but the Meade's a telescope and is sold that way so an image erector isn't part of the kit.

Sorry.

Darren said...

I had a cheap telescope as a kid. The image was correct.

They include a 90 degree lens with the telescope. Why not just replace it with a 45 degree prism so the image is upright?

Again, is it too much to ask to see things correctly? I don't like being told that "this is the way it is, deal with it".

Silvermine said...

Because the rest of us would get really confused when we looked in it? :D

Honestly, this is really an odd thing to get annoyed at, IMHO...

Darren said...

Just accepting that what you're looking at should be backwards seems pretty odd to me.

Anonymous said...

This is a case of erroneous assumptions, that can be turned to a GREAT
learning opportunity! ("Q.Do I want 2WD or 4WD? A.Where'ya'headed?"-With right add-ons, either works)



Star telescopes, aka "light buckets",are designed to be as wide as possible, with fewer glass/air surfaces losing the light gathered a bit at a time; that's why star eyepieces
are interchangeable, rather than "zoom" variable.
Indeed, reflector-types put the metallic coating in FRONT of the mirror, then rely on diligence in avoiding dust, so the star-dots don't go twice through the glass.
90deg. diagonals are really meant for looking straight up without laying on ground.

Terrestrial scopes, having sunlight or lamplight to work on, can afford prisms or extra lenses for right-way-up,right-side-right view expected nowadays--but are rather dim for
seeing stars. A 45deg. diagonal, like a camera pentaprism, has to flipflop light-so more surfaces, and more work than a 90deg.

Hobby astronomers like to type about their passion, so there's ample info on the web
(quoth. the yearling);
try Dave Trott's page on improving "department store" scopes,
http://hometown.aol.com/__121b_BbPOSh39DdTTwLFi578iUcck7kh45xaN

or "Rico Tyler's Frugal Telescope Plans"
which includes how to make a 90deg.diagonal from an electric conduit elbow.
Mr.Tyler is an example of fact that, like most hobbies, bragging rights can accrue to "did it myself", not just "most spent".

Meade's own production has a good reputation, though imported "department store" scopes
under any brand are designed for markup rather than precision; some folk advocate getting good binoculars instead, because stars are ALWAYs white dots to the eye, so the more dots you see (low magnification/wider field) the easier to learn the constellations, while showing color on planet's disks).
BTW, eyepiecies are standardised in .965-inch diameter (common on imports), or 1.25-inch for "serious"(money)scopes, but any brand will interchange in each size.
DIY types even dismantle junked/yardsale binocs for lenses and prisms,adapting them with tubing, wood, or tape--and not neccessrily tacky results!

Anonymous said...

The ETX-70 offers two frustrating problems.

First, there's no spotting scope so to find any astronomical feature whatsoever, you must first spend several minutes programming the scope.

Second, when the scope is pointing almost straight up, the focusing knob is out of reach. Changing eyepieces usually requires refocusing so with the ETX-70 you must move the scope away from the object, refocus and then find the object again.
It's usually not worth it.

When asking Meade's customer service people for help with these two problems, they were impatient and even sarcastic.