Meade Instruments - Tijuana factory

posted: 1 November 2021


Founded in 1972, today Meade Instruments is commonly acknowledged as one of the most innovative and dynamic companies in the telescope market manufacturing and supplying a wide range of instruments for astronomy. Known for its ground-breaking leaps in telescopic design, Meade has introduced dozens of notable innovations over the years that have made amateur astronomy easier to access and more enjoyable than ever.

Meade Instruments factory in Tijuana, Mexico.
Meade Instruments factory in Tijuana, Mexico.

All Meade Instruments advanced astronomical telescopes including Coronado Solar scopes are manufactured at the company’s factory in Tijuana, Mexico a few miles south of San Diego, California, USA including all ACF optics, LightSwitch, LX90, LX200, LX600, LX850 telescopes and Coronado Solar scopes. Research and development of new products takes place at the company’s HQ in California.

CNC machines for the manufacture of smaller parts.
Larger parts on the right e.g., the primary mirror housing.

ETX Observer, LX65 and LX85 series telescopes are not currently manufactured in Tijuana except for the LX65/85 ACF optical tubes that are also made in the Meade Tijuana facility; plans to bring production of these telescopes closer to home is under consideration at time of writing. The factory is serviced by a wide range of CNC machines for the manufacture of telescope parts. State-of-the art optics making, polishing, vacuum coating and optics testing machines and instruments are used to produce exceptionally high quality spherical and aspherical optics that are used in Meade’s high-end ACF telescopes.

Meade Instruments advanced telescopes

The LX90 ACF is Meade’s workhorse telescope with Meade’s advanced ACF optics and comes with the Audiostar computerised handbox and GPS. The LX90 ACF comes in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch apertures.

LX90 ACF assembly line.
Final QC Inspection prior to packing.
The LX200 in 1992, was the first commercially successful GoTo telescope system. The LX200 has seen several updates since and current LX200 ACF models benefit from a new, heavier fork-arm mount that dampens vibration, Level North Technology, ACF optics and GPS. The LX200 ACF telescopes come in f/10 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, 14-inch and 16-inch apertures establishing the LX200 ACF as the new standard in amateur astrophotography platforms.

The LX600 ACF with StarLock builds upon the venerable foundation of the LX200, integrating Meade’s StarLock full time Autoguiding, fast f/8 Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) optics, detachable fork arms and the all new precision CNC-machined X-Wedge. This telescope combines the visual ease-of-use of alt/az mode with the option to perform serious astro-imaging with the addition of the X-Wedge. Never before has there been such a versatile astronomical instrument. The LX600 ACF comes in f/8 10-inch, 12-inch, 14-inch and 16-inch apertures.

The LX850 with StarLock is the latest in a long line of advanced astronomical products manufactured in the Tijuana factory. Using revolutionary new technology, every aspect of this system has been designed to deliver the new standard in astrophotographic and visual performance. StarLock — the heart of the LX850 — makes target acquisition on your imaging sensor and accurate guiding during exposures completely automatic without the need for a PC. The LX850 ACF comes in f/8 10-inch, 12-inch and 14-inch apertures.
Meade RCX400 20-inch.

LX850 ACF testing prior to final QC inspection and packing.

Coronado Solar telescopes

The PST (Personal Solar Telescope) is the most popular telescope to observe the Sun. It has been designed as a highly portable dedicated Solar scope with completely internal non-removable solar filtering optics that makes it ideal for school type environments.

Coronado Solar telescope assembly and testing.
Coronado technicians.
The SolarMax III high resolution Solar scopes are ideal for both observing and imaging the Sun and are used around the world by serious Solar enthusiasts and professional research facilities alike.

With full size ‘true’ Ha etalons (60mm & 90mm, single or double stacked) and the patented RichView Tuner, these scopes are designed to deliver higher contrast views and sharper features compared with models using smaller internal Ha etalon designs and standard tuning mechanisms.
Parts for testing and assembly.

Meade Instruments recent technological advancements

The Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) optical system, was the first affordable optics delivering Ritchey-Chrétien-like performance, in 2005. A traditional Ritchey-Chrétien (RC) is a type of reflector that delivers a coma-free view via hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors. Because the mirrors in these telescopes have always been rather expensive to make, few amateur astronomers could enjoy them. Suspecting that there was a better way to design this optical system, Meade engineers developed a radical new Advanced Coma-Free design by combining a hyperbolic secondary mirror with a corrector-lens-and-spherical-primary-mirror combination that performs as one hyperbolic element.

Mirror grinding/polishing machines for 20-inch mirrors.
Interferometer benches where ACF optical tubes are tested.

This ACF design produces a coma-free, flatter field of view that equals traditional RC telescopes at a fraction of the cost. The design also eliminates diffraction spikes and improves astigmatism, both of which are inherent in the traditional RC design. No other optical design delivers both the level of performance and affordability as ACF.

LightSwitch Technology, the first one-touch, fully automatic alignment system, introduced in 2009. Meade’s revolutionary LS LightSwitch series of telescopes use advanced technologies like GPS, LNT and ECLIPS CCD imaging to do what no other consumer telescopes have done before: take all the hassle out of using a telescope. Simply flip the switch and the LS automatically aligns itself without any input from the user. Quite simply, it is the most sophisticated, easiest to use telescope ever produced.

StarLock, with Meade’s exclusive LightSwitch technology at its core, uses a 80mm f/5 optic and a super wide-angle lens in a two camera system that automatically finds your target in ultra-high precision, immediately captures a field star as dim as 11th magnitude and then guides to an incredible accuracy of one arcsecond. StarLock achieves this amazing accuracy because, unlike add-on guiders, StarLock is integrated into the telescope control system and communicates directly with the motor controllers in real time with a maximum precision of 0.01 arcseconds

Astronomer Inside, the first integrated, multi-media content, introduced in 2009. As an integral part of the development of the LS line of telescopes, Meade produced audio and video content to allow users to experience the Universe like they never had before. Culminating in over five hours of fascinating facts and history, it was decided the content was too good not to include with other products. A decision that led to the: AudioStar, the first audio-enabled, computer control handbox, in 2010. With all the content and no delivery system, the next step was obvious: design a handbox with all of the features of the ground-breaking AutoStar, with the added ability to deliver audio content. First included with the StarNavigator line of introductory telescopes, AudioStar handboxes are now standard equipment with most computerised Meade telescopes.

Meade’s UHTC in 2002, the first ultra-high transmission coatings for commercial telescopes. Precisely designed to improve the performance of a telescope’s optics, these advanced multi-coatings increase light transmission — on average across the visual spectrum — by about 15% (for example, Meade UHTC coatings will increase the image brightness of a 10-inch LX200-ACF by the equivalent of about 0.75 inch of aperture), providing much higher performance for observers and Astro-photographers alike. Still the industry standard, these coatings are available only from Meade.

Meade’s RichView tuning assembly is in the heart of every Coronado SolarMax III Solar scope and represents a breakthrough in Solar observing and imaging. This patented system allows direct tuning of the primary filter etalon that no other commercially available Ha telescope can provide offering a wide tuning range and exceptional accuracy.

Meade Instruments factory in Tijuana, Mexico.

Labels: news, article

Posted by: Opticstar

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