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Buck's Gears and Tune Up Kits

Buck's Gears or Buck's Tune-Up,
Which do you need for your scope?

Meade incorporated a new and much improved drive with the introduction of the LX200 GPS telescope, and an even more sophisticated drive in the 14" version of the LX200 GPS. These two basic drive designs are still used in all later scope versions.  Unfortunately Meade has mixed gear types and drive types to the point where things get complicated.

Our Buck's Gears kit replaces loose tolerance molded plastic transfer gears originally used in these telescopes with high precision machined stainless steel gears while making numerous adjustments, alignments and corrections .   In a period centering on September of 2005 Meade upgraded to the use of precision metal gears.  Since 50% of the performance improvement achieved with the Buck's Gears kit was associated with the adjustments, the Buck's Tune-Up was introduced so that the scopes with metal gears could achieve maximum mechanical precision.

So which upgrade do you need?  It depends upon which version of the drive your telescope contains, and whether that drive is equipped with plastic or precision metal gears.  Meade mixed plastic with metal for a period  as long as 9 or 10 months before and after September 2005, and they occasionally have substituted  the standard drives from the 8", 10" and 12" scopes in place of what we refer to as the "Big Scope" drives originally designed for use in the 14" scopes.  The following match-up is pretty reliable but if you (or we) have a question it's best to check the pictures below and then open your scope and check for yourself.

Buck's Gears - For "standard" drives with plastic transfer gears  With the exception of the RCX 400, all Meade 7", 8", 10" and 12" scopes use "standard" drives.  GPS scopes manufactured before September 2005 contain plastic transfer gears.  8" through 12" GPS scopes manufactured between September 2005 and June 2006 and the early production LX200R scopes may contain plastic transfer gears.  

Buck's Big Scope Gears  - For "Big Scope" drives with plastic transfer gears  Almost all 14" Meade scopes use what we term the "Big Scope" drive, but there are occasional exceptions where Meade experimented with using "Standard" drives in the declination.  Meade also utilized the Big Scope version of the drive in the RCX400 8", 10" and 12" scopes.  All 14" scopes manufactured before February 2005 are certain to have plastic transfer gears.  Those 14" and RCX  scopes manufactured between  Feb 2005 and June 2006 may have plastic transfer gears, metal transfer gears, or a combination.  All Big Scope drives in scopes shipped after June 2006 have precision metal gears.

Buck's Tune-up - for "Standard" drives with Meade's precision metal transfer gears  Use this tune-up for all 8", 10" and 12" LX200 ACF scopes and for 8", 10" and 12" LX200 R and GPS scopes manufactured since June 2006. 

Buck's Big Scope Tune-Up - for "Big Scope" drives with Meade's precision metal transfer gears This includes all RCX400 scopes and all 14" scopes manufactured after June 2006.

 

How to inspect your drive:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn off your telescope.  Unscrew the declination locking knob, turning it counterclockwise.  Remove the knob assembly (includes knob, escutcheon plate and 2 spacers – one on each side of the escutcheon plate).   Put a finger or two through the hole in the now exposed plastic drive cover, and push against the steel plate inside.  This is the outer clutch plate.  It’s riding on 2 short pins and we don’t want it to fall off and onto the declination drive motor below.  Now, using a 3/32” hex wrench, remove the 6 or 7 socket head cap screws holding the plastic drive cover in place.  Note that the 2 bottom screws may be  a bit longer than the others.   Inspect your drive.  When replacing the cover be careful not to pinch any stray wires between the cover and the fork arm.

Here's what the "standard' drive looks like:

 

The transfer gears are the gears at the left side of the picture.  This particular picture shows the standard drive after Buck's precision Gears have been installed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's what the "Big Scope" drive  looks like:

 

There's a white plastic transfer gear is on the left side of the wormshaft, and it's meshing with a gear underneath it that's poking out from the inside of the motor section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here's an additional thing to look for if you open your scope:

 

Meade occasionally assembles experimental parts into production telescopes and Meade occasionally changes their design and their assembly procedures.  This is a picture of the standard drive in an LX200 ACF scope manufactured in June 2009.  Meade used hot melt glue to permanently bond  wire connectors from the declination drive to the circuit board.  Examine your declination drive connectors.  If your connectors are hot glued you cannot use Buck's Gears or Buck's Tune-Up.   Attempting to remove the hot melt will probably irreparably damage your circuit board

 

Note that these upgrade kits do not fit the LX90 or the LX200 Classic scopes

For a detailed independent analysis of Buck's Gears and other associated improvement procedures see
Geof Wingham's study:

Geof Wingham has documented a very comprehensive program to improve the tracking of his 12" GPS.  His charts & comments documents the periodic error before and after the installation of Buck's Gears.  Geof's comments are highlighted in red.

Red Line original PE Error of LX200GPS 12" when first placed on a wedge - once I had cleaned the crap and aluminum filings off the worm it started to show 3 distinct cycles as it should.

I tried PEMPro to fix LX200 but it was a waste of time - replaced all the gears with Bucks gears and tightened up and adjusted what I could - it gave a lot smoother PE though it was still high.

Once Bucks gears were in PEMPro had a chance and I was able to reduce PE to around 16 arc sec peak to peak - WOW - Says a lot for the quality of Meade Telescopes. Especially the mounts.
 

Geof started out with what was obviously a very bad drive - one unusable for imaging even with guiding.  This isn't uncommon.  Only after Buck's Gears were installed (and all the mechanical tune-ups included with a Buck's Gears installation were made) was Geof able to make meaningful PEC corrections.  PEMPro gives nice informative graphics but I've found Meade's PEC training to be just as effective.  It's necessary to run through several PEC training cycles to optimize drive performance and I don't know if Geof did that.  His periodic error is still a bit on the high side, but with the very gentle slopes exhibited over the scope's 24-minute period quality imaging is now possible.

Products

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Buck's Standard PRECISION Gears for 7", 8", 10" and 12" Meade LX200GPS and early production LX200R telescopes

If your 7", 8", 10" or 12" Meade LX200GPS was manufactured before August 2005 the odds are 95 in 100 that it has molded plastic transfer gears in the drive train. Replace these plastic gears with precision machined high strength stainless steel gears. This kit not only upgrades the transfer gears; it addresses and tunes the full mechanical drive system for both axes.


Our price: $114.99 (€100.04)
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Buck's Tune-Up for standard drives used on 8", 10" and 12" Meade LX200 ACF and LX200R and newer 7", 8", 10" and 12" Meade and LX200GPS

DO NOT BUY THIS UPGRADE if you own a 7", 8", 10" or 12" Meade LX200GPS manufactured BEFORE August 2005 - Your scope has plastic gears and need the Buck's Gears kit.   

This upgrade is intended for  scopes manufactured after August 2005 when Meade started using precision brass transfer gears in the drive train.   The upgrade is actually a Buck's Gears kit without the gears! 


Our price: $42.99 (€37.40)
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Buck's Big Scope PRECISION Gears for Meade 14" LX200R, LX200GPS & all size Meade RCX400 scopes

Replace the molded plastic gears in your drive train with precision machined high strength stainless steel gears.  Install a simple but positive worm engagement system.  This kit not only upgrades and adjusts the scope's gears; it addresses and tunes the full mechanical drive system for both axes.


Our price: $133.99 (€116.57)
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Buck's Big Scope Tune-Up for 14" Meade LX200 ACF/R/GPS and Meade 10", 12" and 14" RCX400 telescopes

This upgrade is intended for  scopes manufactured after August 2005 when Meade started using precision brass transfer gears in the drive train.   The upgrade is actually a Buck's "Big Scope" Gears kit without the gears! 


Our price: $51.99 (€45.23)
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Buck's 16-inch PRECISION Gears for 16" Meade LX200GPS and RCX400 telescopes

Due to a number of field failures where the plastic transfer gears in 16" telescopes have stripped Peterson Engineering has begun limited fabrication of Buck's 16" gears.


Our price: $110.00 (€95.70)
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