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ETX-90/EC USER FEEDBACK - APRIL 1999
Last updated: 30 April 1999

This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade ETX-90/EC. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to both the original ETX model, the ETX-90/EC, and the ETX-125/EC are posted on other pages as appropriate. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Sky & Telescope ETX-90/EC review (4/30/99)
Meade #497 Autostar Supplementary Software Downloads (4/16/99)
Polar Alignment Technique (3/10/99)
ETX-90/EC Press Release (1/28/99)
ETX-90/EC Accessories (1/28/99)


Subject:	 Help please
Sent:	Wednesday, April 28, 1999 4:34:46
From:	steve_southern@uk.ibm.com
NEW MEADE ETX-90EC

Am I glad I've found your website.

The 'all new singing and dancing'  ETX-90EC has finally hit the stores
of the UK. I bought one about 3 weeks ago. The store sold my old ETX  2
days later. I was very happy with the old ETX and the thought of having
one with a goto thrilled me.

Oh despair!!

The first ETX-90EC I bought failed to function properly in Altitude
direction. The Alt-drive operated like a ratchet! In Alt/Az mode, it
didn't find a thing, it didn't track and it was obvious there was
something wrong with the alt drive. It was also obvious with the hand
controller in place of the autostar. No problems, the store replaced the
ETX for another one. I checked the motors in daylight  and they looked
better.

Ready and eager I waited for a clear night (a rarity in Northern
England!). We had one last night. So I set it up, going through the
calibration, drive training and alignment. My colleague assisted me. We
used his 12mm reticule eyepiece to train the drives very precisely then
aligned using the 2 star method on Vega and Arcturus. The ETX was
mounted on the ETX tripod and leveled using the bubble level. Time was
very accurately entered. The only thing slightly out was the location as
I used Liverpool as my location and I am 18 miles from the city.

Imagine my disappointment when I slewed to Capella only to find it
barely in the finder. I centere it and sync'd it. Then tried for a few
other bright stars, none of which went near the standard eyepiece and
were usually about 3 to 4 degrees out. Just visible in the finder. At
one point I went from Capella to M36. Part of M36 was just visible in
the telescope eyepiece so it couldn't even move a few degrees correctly.

Am I expecting too much to get the object in the eyepiece?
Am I doing something wrong?
Shall I replace the ETX yet again?
Help!!
I have used LX200's and vixen driven reflectors in the past, both being
very accuarate.

Any help or suggestions would be very appreciated

Regards,
Steve Southern
England
internet id steve_southern@uk.ibm.com
Mike here: There are a lot of possibilities here. I suggest you read through all the ETX-90/EC Feedback pages (don't forget the Feedback Archives). You may find some useful info. Also, the new Autostar version 1.1 does appear to have corrected a number of similar problems.

Subject:	 Piggyback astrophotography
Sent:	Monday, April 26, 1999 19:00:52
From:	kundaria@ix.netcom.com (Summit Kundaria)
I was wondering if piggyback astrophotography is possible with the
ETX-90/EC and a 300mm lens.  I know this is a pretty powerful zoom, and
was wondering what the necessary equipment (guiding eyepiece
magnification, etc.) would be needed for carrying it out.  Also, I was
wondering how the JMI counterbalance that comes with the piggyback
adapter works, as I would like to attemp to make my own piggyback
bracket and counterweight also.  Thank you for the help.

Sincerely,
Summit Kundaria
kundaria@ix.netcom.com
Mike here: I can't speak for piggyback astrophotography with the ETX-90/EC and a long telephoto lens but I have done this with my ETX (original model), the Microstar dual axis controller, and a 230mm lens. Using a reticle eyepiece helps a LOT. I would expect that the ETX-90/EC would perform similarly. You'll still want a reticle eyepiece to assist with the guiding. You can see some examples on the Astrophotography - Sky and Deep Sky pages.

Added later:

I was meaning to ask whether, at high magnification, the slowest slewing
speed was slow enough to keep the guide star in the box, or if it was
too fast and would lead to overcorrection.  300mm is my goal, and I am
not familiar with tracking tolerances, so I was wondering what kind of
guiding eyepiece I would need and what the tolerance would be like.  I
know it would not be very much for the 300mm lens, but it would help me
get an idea at the equipment I need.
Mike here: Slow or fast, it doesn't matter. Both will lead to trailing. Exactly right-on is what will avoid trailing. In general, I would expect you should be able to correct DEC or RA in small increments without showing trailing on 35mm film with a 300mm lens.

Subject:	 ETX 90/EC dec. and r.a. slop
Sent:	Monday, April 26, 1999 18:33:00
From:	scjohnso@vt.edu (scott johnson)
this is a follow-up to an earlier message i sent you.  scrap the earlier
one.

several posts have asked how to deal with r.a. and dec. slop in the
90/ec.   jordan blessing has posted his etx90/ec tune up page, with
detailed pictures and instructions for curing backlash and similar
problems.   go to  http://web.archive.org/web/20100105230338/http://home.att.net/%7Ejblessin/etx.htm  and look for
the tune-up page link.  as both jordan and mike often warn, however,
most of what jordan advises there voids meade warranty.  try at your own
risk.

--
Scott Johnson

Subject:	 ETX-90/EC Quality Control problems
Sent:	Monday, April 26, 1999 15:49:05
From:	newby@damage.nobletec.com (Matthew Newby)
I've got a couple quality control questions for you all.

First Question/Background info:  At this point, I'm on my third ETX from
the local Nature Company. The first one broke as soon as I got it home,
and it got returned/replaced the same day.  The second one broke about
two weeks later--returned and replaced last Saturday.

The problem has been the altitude tension knob--specifically the plastic
thingy it screws into on the other side of the metal disk.  When turning
the knob to set the tension--going very gingerly, mind you--the center
plastic piece shears in half right behind the brass screw insert.  On
the first one, I had tightened it to moderate tightness when it broke. 
On the second one, I was simply applying enough torque to keep the OTA
from flopping around.

Talking to the sales rep at the Nature Company, he assured me that
they'd take back any equipment that's broken due to manufacturer defect
for the life of the scope.  I think I'm gonna laminate my original sales
receipt...  Anyone else having problems with quality control on this
piece?  I'm hoping it was a bad run through the injection molder, and
that I've got one that won't break.

Second question:  has anyone found any work-arounds for some of the bugs
in the 1.0c version of the Autostar?  I'm on my second one of these... 
I ordered the #505 cable set from the Nature Company, but they are
back-ordered 4-8 weeks (didn't anticipate the demand--I guess they
didn't anticipate Meade would release buggy software that REQUIRES a new
s/w image to use it, eh?).  In the interim, I'd like to be able to GOTO
different objects, but it doesn't seem to hit them after a successful
align.

I'm using the scope in Alt-Az mode.  I got a Bogen 3230 tripod with the
3030 head, and manufactured a mounting plate from a 6" long piece of
2"x1/4" metal bar.  I drilled holes for the ETX mounting screws and
drilled and tapped a 1/4-20 hole in the middle for the tripod mounting
shoe.  When I took the tripod to the Nature Company to show the sales
rep, he could't believe how solid it was--especially in comparison to
the Field Tripod from Meade right beside it...  Let's just say there's
NO wobble in my setup, so any alignment problems are due to the
Autostar.

I've gone through the steps outlined in the new Autostar user's manual
available on Meade's website, I've calibrated and trained both drives,
created a location with my exact latitude and longitude and GMT offset
(all the built-in longitudes and GMT offsets had the wrong sign in the
database), and I still can't get it to work.  Does anybody know what
version of the Autostar software the reviewer in Sky & Telescope was
using on his little baby?  I'm beginning to think it ain't the same as
mine.

At least this Autostar doesn't say "BELOW HORIZION" for all the Guided
Tour objects.

Thanks for your feedback.

-matt

p.s. Mike, you've got a great site, and as a new ETX owner I'd like to
thank you for your efforts.  I don't know if I would have bought one of
these if I didn't know there is a large community of smart folks our
there who can support each other!

p.p.s. If I return the ETX and the Autostar, I'm about $50 bucks short
of getting a TeleView! :-)  I really do want to see this thing work
though!

+-------------------------------------+
|            Matthew Newby            |
| WebMaster, Noble Technologies, Inc. |
|         newby@nobletec.com          |
|   http://www.nobletec.com/~newby/   |
+-------------------------------------+
| But the noble man makes noble plans,|
|    and by noble deeds he stands.    |
|              Isa 32:8               |
+-------------------------------------+

Subject:	 Busy Day & Night for my ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Sunday, April 25, 1999 19:07:04
From:	mikewrobel@harborcom.net (Michael Wrobel)
Yesterday I was able to make full use of my ETX-90/EC

The night before after looking at Mars, I removed the ETX tube assembly
from the base and mounted it to my new lightweight, quick release camera
tripod.  I spent the whole day on the Lake Metroparks bird watching 
trip to Maumee Bay / Magee marsh / Ottowa National Wildlife refuge.   I
was able to use the ETX to look at Ruddy, Gadwall, & Wood ducks a Maumee
Bay.   I got a great close-up (25 feet away) of a Screech Owl peeping
out at me from its "Owl" house.   Most of my other observing was done
with binoculars but it was great to have the ETX spotter along for these
great high magnification views.   Everybody along on the trip got a look
see.  I received many complements on the clarity of image produced by
the ETX as compared to other spotter scopes in use.

When we got home from the bird watching trip, I was able to get the ETX
transformed back into 'astronomy' mode within 15 minutes (including a
rough polar alignment without an Autostar).   I set up for the Chagrin
Valley Astronomical Society's Sping Starfest put on in conjunction with
the Lake Metroparks. I mainly had the ETX trained on the Moon, Mars &
Venus as this was what most of the public was interested in looking at. 
This freed up the larger aperture scopes (Dobsonians, Smidtt Cass's,
and a 6" Refractor) to show off the deep sky "Faint Fuzzies".   I got a
lot of interest in the ETX from the kids as they seem to take a liking
to a scope that is more like their size.    I even got more interest
than I expected from the adults.   Many of them where already familiar
with what it looked like since we have a Natural Wonders store at out
local mall.   Several where keen to take a look through it as they
themselves expressed an interest in buying an ETX.    When the crowds
died down, the members of the club had a great time just star gazing &
looking through each others scopes.

When I got home late that night, I almost decided to convert my ETX back
into 'bird spotter' mode in preparation for today's early morning (7:30
A.M.) birdwalk.   I figured that if I could manage to get up at 6:00
A.M. I would convert it then.   As it turned out, I had so much fun on
Saturday, I slepted like the dead until 10:00 A.M. & missed the Sunday
bird walk.   I must be slowing down in my old age.

Clear Skys to All
Mike Wrobel   

Subject:	 ETX quality ?
Sent:	Saturday, April 24, 1999 20:17:05
From:	daniel@dfv.se (Daniel)
First of all, thanks for a great site !

I have just purchased my first telescope, the ETX/90. Unfortunately I
couldn't get the Autostar directly, as they are on back order here in
Sweden. (Will get one in May)

Anyway, I did have some problems with the scope. The first unit I
recieved had an extreme ammount of play in the gears. At the slowest
speed it would take _1 minute_ to reverse directions. When I complained
the dealer first replied that it was normal, but I resisted that
thought. After a comparison with his demo scope, he unpacked another
scope. It too had the same problem. After some discussions I went home
with the demo scope which was his last piece (by now the dealer was
pretty miserable, he had three scopes and 1 worked...). My guess
regarding the reluctance from his part to admit the fault is that he
either didn't know better or was trying to cheat me into taking a second
class scope. Either way I didn't have an alternative, we only have 1
Meade dealer in Stockholm... :-/

My current scope appears to be in perfect shape (no play whatsoever in
the drive), I really can't judge the optical quality (haven't had a
clear sky yet, but the terrestial views have been sharp). Also, I'm
pretty much a newbie so I don't know how to judge it more than if the
view "looks good". :-)

But, after my problems I am a bit curious. Exactly how prone to trouble
is the ETX/90 ? Anyone else with a similar experience ?

Best Regards and clear skies to you !
/Daniel Forslund, Stockholm, Sweden

------------------------------------------------------------------
       d a n i e l   f o r s l u n d   v i s u a l i s e r i n g
                  - animation and special effects -
                           http://www.dfv.se
------------------------------------------------------------------
       Personal Page: http://www.dfv.se/daniel.html
Mike here: There have been reports related to quality issues on both current models of the ETX. It is hard to say where the problem is. Damage in shipment (especially overseas)? Damage by users who then return the item to the dealer who puts it back in stock to sell? Or something that slipped by Meade's Quality Assurance Program (I'm assuming they have one)? Fortunately, Meade's policies with its dealers seems to be generous on exchanges.

Subject:	 Not Quite There
Sent:	Saturday, April 24, 1999 6:02:12
From:	cdugger@freeway.net (Chris Dugger)
I need some advice from the group.  First night with the EC, and I had
mixed GOTO results.  Aligned per instructions and after reviewing posts
here, and found that on Easy Align, the scope moved with pretty good
accuracy in AZ, but was consistenly low, I mean not even close in ALT. 
I went ahead and centered the alignment stars and sync'd, and the unit
said it was a successful alignment.  When I began using GOTO, I had
fairly good results when working near the Pole, e.g. M81, M82, but went
after Mars and the scope was again very low in ALT.  I realigned several
times with more of less similar results.  Does this sound like anything
obvious?  I have a Bogen tripod, with the bubble level, and even checked
the level on the OTA with a spirit level.  Time is exact, placed Polaris
in the red-dot to get home position.

The only area where I may have a problem is with my location.  I am not
near any database site, so I entered my coordinates using a GPS.  Did I
read somwhere that the LAT/LON is not degrees and minutes, but degrees
and a decimal equivalent?  If so that could be my problem.  Any help
would be appreciated, it seems that its always something.

Thanks,

Chris Dugger
Mike here: If you haven't downloaded the Autostar 1.1 update, you should do that. Of course, you'll need Windows (right now) and a cable.

Added later:

I have the latest version.  I think that I am sorting it out.  I had the
lat/lon key'd in wrong, not a lot, but enough that it made a difference
I'm sure.  Then I started messing with the time zone.  I live in
northwestern michigan, actually west of a number of places that are in
the central time zone.  We are however in the eastern time zone.  I
thought that that might be the problem, so I entered +5.8 in the time
zone setup.  I was even worse off with that adjustment, so I think that
I need to just enter +5, since the unit should know exactly where it is
geographically.  I also realized that while I was close to the home
position, I was loosening the Az lock and rotating the OTA slightly to
get a polar alignment, rather than keeping the dec knob over the power
plug, and rotating the tripod.

I'll figure it out.  Since I haven't heard hundreds of users complaining
that the ETX isn't pointing accurately, if must be driver error.

Thanks for your response and for the support of the web page,

Chris

Subject:	 AutoStar software upgrade question
Sent:	Friday, April 23, 1999 23:25:51
From:	kerbob@jax-inter.net (Robert Bloch)
Are you familiar enough with serial ports to tell me how to get the
AutoStar 1.1 upgrade from my P.C. to the telescope. I got the software
downloaded and the cable just came in from Scopetronics, but I am a
total novice at hooking up anything to a serial/COM port, and my comp
manuals do not help.

Any help you can be is appreciated.

Thanks,

Robert Bloch
kerbob@jax-inter.net
Mike here: Basically, you connect the cable to the serial port on your PC. Depending upon how old your PC is, you may have different types of serial port connectors. Start by looking for a port that matches the connector on the cable you received from Scopetronix. If you found a match (connect to that port). If you don't find a match you may need to purchase an adapter from your local computer store. Since I don't use PCs (or DOS/Windows) when I don't have to, I don't have one at home to look at. Once you get connected, just run the installer that you downloaded from Meade's web site. Don't forget to connect the other end of the cable to the Autostar.

Subject:	 ETX Power
Sent:	Friday, April 23, 1999 7:18:42
From:	andrewj@netvigator.com (Andrew Jackson)
I would like to thank (Don Barbee) dbarbee@airmail.net for his comments
and suggestions.

Don thanks for tips, I did try searching a few of the archives for
'power' before I posted the question about an alternative supply. As
Mike says "There is a discussion of an Drive Alternative Power Source on
the Tech Tips page. But that is for the original model and since there
are more batteries in the ETX-90/EC I assume that the power requirements
are slightly different."  On your advice I also searched the March
archive for Radio Shack, I could not find the post you refer to. There
was a reference to batteries and to a power supply but nothing specific.
For future reference do Radio Shack ship abroad, I live in Hong Kong?

Any way with your information I think I can pick something up here. In
hindsight your comments are too diplomatic "As for how much current you
can put through an ETX, well that's not a proper question.", it was a
proper question, just a stupid one. :)

Many thanks for your advice.

Andrew
andrewj@netvigator.com

Subject:	 A few ETX questions :)
Sent:	Thursday, April 22, 1999 9:40:10
From:	brichard@linknet.net (Briar Richard)
I recently bought the ETX-90/EC, and thus far I've found it to be a
remarkable scope.  It's resolution has to be the most impressive
feature.  I guess its portability comes in a close second, but I'd lug a
heavy scope around if its images were as clear.  Get my drift?

Last night I noticed that a new Meade ETX-125 had entered the market. 
Do you know its retail cost and compatability with the 90/EC's
accessories?  I still have my receipt, and if the price tag is $ 1000 or
less, I might swap them for the difference.

Thanks, Michael.  I appreciate your time.

Briar Richard

Subject:	 ETX-90EC power plug
Sent:	Thursday, April 22, 1999 8:31:57
From:	Watkins.Reece@bis.bls.com (Reece Watkins)
Just thought I'd add another story to the ETX saga.  After playing
around with the Radio Shack 12v supply recommended by other users here,
I noticed that my ETX would no longer work off of the batteries!  It
turns out that none of the four Adapta-Plugs that come with that power
supply are the correct fit for the ETX.  The plug should be 5.5mm O.D.
and 2.5mm I.D., or Radio Shack's Adapta-Plug "N" (white ring, USD$1.99).

Returning my ETX to the Nature Company (100 miles round trip last
night), they had one left.  When I got that one home, the Azimuth motor
was burned out.  But using the "N" plug on it (nothing else to lose, I
guess) did not wreck the power board.  I believe that the green and tan
plugs supplied with that power supply might have somehow shorted out the
AC jack and disengaged the battery pack, but I'm not that
electronic-savvy.  All I'm saying to prospective purchasers of the
12v/1A power pack is to get the "N" Adapta-Plug while they are in the
store to save themselves a potential hassle.

Another nod to the Nature Company for agreeing to swap out my ETX again
at another of their stores.  These guys really are good to do business
with. Hopefully, their merger with the Discovery Channel stores will
continue the excellent service.

On a non-related note, the SkyMap Pro Demo v5 will NOT work with
Autostar ROM version 1.1m!  Apparently, the  LX-200 subset changed
slightly from 1.0c and doesn't play nice with others any more.  Chris
Marriott, the author, posted on s.a.a. that he is aware of the problem
and is asking for volunteers to test out a fix.

Clear, dark skies,
Reece Watkins

Subject:	 Yet More 90 EC useless info
Sent:	Thursday, April 22, 1999 6:38:11
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
I wish I had something as earth shattering to post as that 125 photo,
but this will have to do for now...

I returned my first baby to Natural Wonders and exchanged for a new one
in the shipping box from meade (my first also came that way) - they gave
me no hassles at all, and apologized that i had a problem!  in addition,
i returned my soft bag (useless) and 9.7 mm lens (overpaid at $89, and I
like my lanathium zoom better) - they gave me no hassles, and a prompt
refund.  I told them rather than a refund, I'd be happy to apply credit
and have them special order the 1244 focuser, and right angle view
finder, but they mentioned Natural Wonders can not special order at this
point - so anyway, kudos to Natural Wonders.

Part 2 - I played with my new baby last night (indoors, as most of your
readers seem to do) and I noticed the motors seemed stiffer than my
first baby - perhaps less slop?  my old baby lost it's goto after a few
objects...

Anyway, playing around with 1.1m on the autostar, and having performed a
reset, calibrate motors, BUT NOT TESTING, in the alt-az mode i held down
the mode button for about 2 seconds (per the brief quip in the manual)
and i got the screen which you can scroll around for battery strength in
percent, ra, alt az, and a couple of other things.  Anyway, as I did not
polar align, instead of RA and Dec, it indicated Alt Enc=   and the next
line was AZ Enc = - the altimuth had a small number (i didn't really
raise the tube much) but the AZ really caught my attention - it seems to
be zero when you have the scope in the home position, then scrolling
around i could see what the "encoders saw" - by going at slow speeds,
the AZ increased very slightly, then if i stopped it actually jumped
back quite a bit - i guess tension was relieved on the encoder.  it was
interesting.  As i rotated the scope 360, it zeroed at the home
position, with the highest number being approximately 1,260,000 - i
wonder what multiple of 2 raised to the X that is!  anyway, for the Alt,
it would yield a negative number, but I don't believe the AZ ever did -
so from a hardware standpoint, the scope can not tell if it just rotated
360 degrees - a software flag could of course be set.

It was also interesting that as i hit a stop, the numbers kept changing
- in other words, the encoders spin while the scope is stationary -
which lets me believe that hitting a stop will kill your alignment, and
you have to easy align after hitting a stop.

I tried this in polar mode (indoors) and sure enough, the RA continued
to increase after the scope hit a stop.

But wait, there's more!

The other night, someone gave me coordinates to find a star named after
them - i tried in Alt-Az mode - was nearly impossible to match the
RA-Dec in Alt-Az mode as both sets of numbers move - polar mode would
have been a cinch...anyway, last night i found that holding the mode,
scrolling to polar, then holding the goto and releasing, mixed with a
bit of the mode button allows a mediocre method of punching in the
coordinates - i tried it a couple of times, was difficult to get right,
and if you make a mistake there's no provision to backspace - anyway,
the instructions can use a bit of work.

Finally, after holding down that mode button for a couple of seconds
(sounds like i was on a crusade!) there is a bar that appears in the top
right of the screen, which corresponds to the motor speed - nice touch!
Anyway, happy slewing, and now it's time for me to return the scope and
wait for the 125!  (actually, from the photo, it looks a bit bigger,
bigger base, etc. - wonder if the tripod will work, weight, and of
course, time for a bigger doskocil case, unless someone gets new foam
blanks (about $18) and stores the scope diagonally - wish meade wasn't
so tight lipped!

Gary

Subject:	 Meade scope mount
Sent:	Wednesday, April 21, 1999 21:21:04
From:	j_ullom@erinet.com (Jim Ullom)
Since you seem to be the guru on Meade, do you happen to know a source
for an adapter plate that fits the new ETX-90/EC scope? As you know, the
scope base has a dual screw setup that doesn't properly fit a standard
tripod. It either requires an adapter to fit properly, or you must use
their tripod. I guess Meade wants you to spend $200.00 on their product.

Thanks..

Jim
mailto:j_ullom@erinet.com
Mike here: Visit the Scopetronix web site. They have what you need.

Added later:

Thanks, I was EXACTLY what I needed! I appreciate your assistance.

Subject:	 Lessening Dec Slop in ETX-90/EC
Sent:	Tuesday, April 20, 1999 4:46:10
From:	aerowood@home.com (Wayne Powell)
I too found slop in the Dec gears a problem with my second ETX-90/EC
(the first one went back after the power board went).  Once the Dec is
locked, you can too easily wiggle the main OTA up or down a degree by
hand (or by putting your eye on the eyepiece).  Taking out the main OTA
reveals that the slight free movement is true "slop".  The worm gears
are not tightly mated and there is play between them.

Although I don't have a suggestion for creating a snugger union between
these gears (if anyone does, please post it, it's probably a general
concern for any worm gear driven axis), I was able to reduce the ability
of the Main OTA from accidental movement by hand by using plumber's
Teflon tape around the joints where the arms that hold the OTA fit into
the Fork assemblies (I tightened both right and left arms).  Since these
joints are round, I simply wound on a couple turns of Teflon tape (which
self sticks pretty well) to make them a bit tighter.  IF the union is
too tight it would interfere with the scope's ability to move the OTA in
Dec.  I can tell there is added tension on the drive motor as the pitch
of the motor has changed slightly.  This solution is probably a
temporary fix as, after time and movement, I can see the Teflon tape
working its way out of the joint.  This is an experimental, do at your
own risk, possibly voiding warranty, your mileage may vary, kind of fix.

This fix doesn't take out the actual gear slop of the mechanism when
reversing directions, however as the gears still need time to rotate
that degree or two in order to mate again.  Maybe the possible answers
are more and stiffer grease in the gears?  Or a winding of Teflon tape
on the gears themselves?  I think we'd all like to hear any working
suggestions that have been tried on any worm gear driven mount with slop
problems.  Thanks.

Wayne Powell
aerowood@home.com

Subject:	 ETX RA and Dec Knob Adjustments
Sent:	Sunday, April 18, 1999 13:58:58
From:	berg@ans.net (Kevin Berg)
Since I purchsed my ETX-90/EC a couple of months ago, I have noticed
that the RA and Dec knobs are becoming "loose with use", and wondered
what I can do to tighten them up, so that I don't have as much play on
either axis after I have performed a "firm feel" tighten. It seems I can
totally remove the Dec knob, but haven't done so yet because I want to
make sure this is ok to do before I screw up anything.

Can anyone suggest what can be done to correct the above problem? The
scope still operates well, but I think both knobs need a "tighten up".

Thx,

KMB

Subject:	 ETX and SKYMAP PRO UPDATE
Sent:	Sunday, April 18, 1999 11:21:03
From:	ROGER_WORTLEY@compuserve.com (ROGER WORTLEY)
Thanks for the note regarding posting my message and I thank you for all
your efforts.

I have some further information after today's test

The DEC angle sent by the computer always ends up at 0 Degrees in the
Autostar the RA is reasonably close but not accurate.

I have noticed the following however when entering Alt/Az Co-ordinates
in manual via the Autostar the telescope goes off half cock.

The following test proves its inaccuracy: - Set up as normal and "GOTO"
Saturn (say) Press and hold "MODE" to enter "Manual" mode In RA/Dec mode
press "GOTO" then ENTER" and "ENTER" again. The telescope will hardly
move. - This is correct as it is already at these co-ordinates. Now
scroll down to Alt/Az press "GOTO" then ENTER" and "ENTER" again. My
telescope shoots miles off even though it's at the correct co-ordinates.
The Autostar then updated the display with the new co-ordinates when it
stops

Does anybody have this problem? I'm wondering if they are related.

Many thanks & Keep up the good work

Best Regards

Roger Wortley  Electrical Design Consultant.
London.  England.

Subject:	Alignment for ETX90/EC
Sent:	Sunday, April 18, 1999 8:43:54
From:	MeteorMik@aol.com
Here's a way to trick the telescope into alignment if it is not hitting
the objects you're aiming for dead center in the main  eyepiece field of
view. Assuming the alignment stars are showing up in the finder field
which is a must before continuing, see where the star lays against the
cross hairs. If it is below constantly in Dec but okay in Ra, then do
another alinment procedure but this time instead of centering the
alignment star in the eyepiece field, put it in the lower part of the
field corresponding to approximately where it was in the finder. Then
hit okay. Do the same with the next star. This should trick the scope
into believing it is dead centering the stars. I did this and
afterwards, every object I slewed to was in the eyepeice field on the
first shot. You may have to play with this procedure a couple of times
to see where the object is ending up but it basically works if you can't
seem to get them to center in the eyepeice by normal alignment
procedures. Of course, it is imperative that your finder scope be
accurately aligned to the main eyepiece field of view. Do this on
Polaris since you won't have to worry about drift while performing the
procedure.
Good Luck, Meteormik@aol.com/

Subject:	 ETX/EC
Sent:	Saturday, April 17, 1999 15:08:59
From:	dbarbee@airmail.net (Don Barbee)
I think if andrewj@netvigator.com will check your March archives for the
ETX/EC he will find a catalog number for a radio shack power supply that
will do the trick.  As for how much current you can put through an ETX,
well that's not a proper question.  If you are supplying 12V DC to the
ETX/EC it will use exactly what it needs an no more.  So you aren't
going to 'push' anything through it.  The problem would be not having
enough push.  In the case that Andrew mentioned 12V and 400mA, would
probably be marginal.  I'm betting on 500mA up to maybe 1A being better.
 A marginal supply would cause erratic operation especially when slewing
since the motors eat a lot of power. The worst that would happen is the
Autostar might reset.  You can figure out what comes after that. 

Don B

-- 
Don Barbee
dbarbee@airmail.net
cdasso@nstar.net attn: Don Barbee
972/396-8297 Home office and voice mail
972/751-4670 10am - 7pm

Subject:	 ETX 90 EC with Skymap Pro
Sent:	Saturday, April 17, 1999 11:59:20
From:	ROGER_WORTLEY@compuserve.com (ROGER WORTLEY)
I'm glad I found your great site.

I have a problem with Skymap Pro 5 (Registered version) and an ETX
90/EC. Made the cable, new software downloaded to Autostar V1.1m all ok.
ETX and Autostar seem to perform ok - one of the lucky ones. Controlling
the telescope from the Autostar and Skymap Pro shows the crosshairs on
the screen in the correct position after a "GOTO". Time down load etc
work ok.

Here's my problem: when slewing from Skymap's right click menu the
telescope moves to the wrong position. It appears to be approximately
the same amount out each time. Pressing GOTO on the Autostar the
telescope does not move, indicating it is at the correct co-ordinates
sent. Re-selecting the object in the Autostar and pressing "GOTO" will
send the telescope to the correct point and the Skymap display will be
accurate. It appears that Skymap is sending the wrong position (I doubt
it) or the autostar is miss-reading the data.

When the telescope is communicating with the computer the system tends
to crawl to a point where a right click for the menu takes forever on a
233 Pentium 2 with 64MB of RAM.

Interesting point Skymap 3.2 (Registered version) also seems to function
in the same manner as the pro version but in this case the computer does
not slow down. I have tried alternative computers with the same result.

In testing the cable out on Skymap with the old version of software
V1.0c it seemed to function OK, but I can't remember if I used the
"Slew" function in the test.

I would be grateful for feed back from anyone who is having the same
problems, or information on the software version that works for them. I
need to try and determine whether the problem is with bugged software or
a faulty Autostar.

Many thanks

Roger Wortley  Electrical Design Consultant.
London.  England.

Subject:	 ETX-EC Slewing Problem
Sent:	Saturday, April 17, 1999 5:59:31
From:	macnut@eznet.net (Tom Moenter)
I have a new EC with just the standard controller. It won't slew
continuously in RA/Azimuth. I hold the button down and it with slew
10-15 degrees and stop. I need to release and repress the button and it
will slew another 10-15 degrees and stop. THis is true in either
direction with either button so its not a button problem.

It slews fine in Dec/Altitude.

Sounds like it might have a bug in the controller software. Any
suggestions. How does Meade handle warranty problems? I haven't
contacted them yet.

I'm waiting to get the Autostar till they get the bugs out

Tom Moenter
Mike here: I've heard of others with this same "problem". It may be just the way the controller works.

Subject:	 Power supply for ETX 90 EC
Sent:	Friday, April 16, 1999 6:31:08
From:	andrewj@netvigator.com (Andrew Jackson)
Thanks again for such a wonderful site

I was wondering if you knew the power details of the ETX 90 EC. I know
it is 12V but want to know how many amps it is safe to put through it.
In my neck of the woods the mains voltage is 220, 50 hertz.  I have an
old mobile phone power supply that is multi voltage input and 12V 400ma
out put, does anyone know if it is safe.

Andrew
andrewj@netvigator.com
Mike here: There is a discussion of an Drive Alternative Power Source on the Tech Tips page. But that is for the original model and since there are more batteries in the ETX-90/EC I assume that the power requirements are slightly different.


Subject:	 Re: Whine of the day...
Sent:	Friday, April 16, 1999 5:41:04
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
as usual, thanks for the tip mike - i saw this e-mail this a.m. - i had
skimmed jordan's site, and noticed that there is a new meade buggy
autostar download as of april 13 - the old one wouldn't work on my
notebook (my preferred "Meade" computer) - i was getting ready to
re-install windows 95, as the software APPEARED to work on my other
computers, while the notebook said missing files, illegal calls, etc.).
Well, sure enough, I installed the new Autostar program, and it opened
the dialogue box and appeared to run on the notebook - only one problem,
it couldn't find the autostar!  after much head scratching, i took apart
my cable, and doh!  I wired it backwards, despite being careful not to -
previously i was using a multitester whose leads were too thick for the
phone connection, so per your site, i bought the radio shack light bulb
with leads for all of about $1.19 which showed me my leads were
backwards...a little while later (ok, hour or so - definatly not as
little as 15 minutes!) i had a working autostar cable, and 45 minutes
later i had autostar 1.1m - will let you know how it works out when the
rain stops around here.

Here's a quick tip - to strip the impossibly small wires on the phone
cord, i simply used my gas range at home to burn the insulation off - i
imagine a match or lighter would work as well - does a much better job
than stripping and cutting those little wires to pieces! I know, as
usual I rambled, feel free to cute and paste any amount of this letter
which you feel may be beneficial to others!

Incidentally, I just got my first issue of sky and telescope (May), with
a quasar on the cover - it reviews the ETX/EC and Autostar, and has
nothing but praise - I'm almost ready to go out and buy an additional
one, except I know they don't all work out of the box as claimed - talk
about an optomisitic report!  Finally, the ET from ETX stands for
"Everyone's Telescope" - you probably knew that, but maybe not...

Happy Seeing,
Gary


Subject:	 AutoStar Win95 download utility program updated
Sent:	Thursday, April 15, 1999 19:24:52
From:	jherron@voyager.net (Jim Herron)
In case anyone else hasn't reported in, Meade has already posted an
update to the AutoStar windows software for downloading the ROM.  It's
up to version 1.1 and the web page indicates it's been available since
4/13.

I'm quite satisfied with my current setup since 1.1M installed but
curiosity about whether the update for the AutoStar Automagic update
included a newer (than 1.1M) rom image prompted me to download the
package anyway.  Meade's SETUP program creates an ephemerides
subdirectory which contains the ROM images and celestial data that goes
into the autostar.  I did a quick binary file compare of all 9 files
found there and it verifes that the AutoStar software itself is still
1.1M only the update program itself was tweaked.


Subject:	 Play in Dec Axis
Sent:	Thursday, April 15, 1999 15:31:54
From:	cdugger@freeway.net (Chris Dugger)
I am curious about the play in the dec axis that was described in
another previous post.   I have a similar amount of play, 3 clicks on
the setting circle dial, with the dec knob tight, and a very small
amount of play in the RA.  I have only gotten out one evening to try its
pointing accuracy, and for reasons that I don't need to bore everyone
with, I know that my easy alignment was not perfect, so I did not give
it a fair test.  I am hoping that this play is not really material, but
one thing that I have discovered is that if you unscrew the dec
tightening knob as loose as possible, and then retighten it snug, the
"slop" goes away.  Modest pressure can recreate it, but I suspect that
normal operations, i.e, changing eyepieces, if you are careful, will
allow for the dec to stay "locked" and not creep outside of its aligned
accuracy.

Obviously, we would wish that the unit had no slop at all, but having
gotten a good optical instrument, one is reticent to enter the great
product return lottery.  Feedback please, should I send it back until
satisfied, or is this kind of play to be expected.

Thanks,

Chris


Subject:	 Whine of the day...
Sent:	Thursday, April 15, 1999 10:21:57
From:	gbg@webspan.net (Gary)
I haven't written in with stupid questions in quite a while...well,
until this one...actually, I've pretty much given up getting my still
new and shiny 90 EC with Autostar to do what the box claims...I think
I'm on the right track in that the scope will try to slew 370 degrees,
but i can forget about go to pointing accurately at anything.  I've read
the posts, called meade, walked the walk (kinda), reset, recalibrated,
retrained, re-retrained, took more trains, etc.  For training, I've used
8 mm lenses, or barlowed 9.7 - i don't know how to possibly get more
accuracy.  I tried setting the lat/longitude accurately (tough - most of
the sites are decimal, but i finally found a conversion). Anyway, I know
you don't have one of these BAD boys, but I'm posting in case anyone has
any ideas - my lat long and time are in the ball park or it wouldn't
semi-accurately auto align for the 2 guide stars.  I've been using
Alt-Az with the old software.  At this point, I'm thinking of bringing
the whole shebang back to Natural Wonders for a replacement, or maybe a
refund and I'll wait for the 125 to come out - anyone have any advise -
maybe they can figure what I'm doing wrong - At times it will goto the
general area, where the star MIGHT appear in the locater scope, but
NEVER in the field scope.

Oh, as an aside, last night I met someone while I was setting up - he
used to star gaze, and between him guiding me with my Nightwatch and
book, and me starhopping, I was able to see more last night than I ever
did - Orion Nebula, pleiades, and the creme de la creme - the beehive
nebula - i tried for m81/2, but couldn't find it - ok, thanks for
listening, and any input greatly appreciated.  I'm trying Staten Island,
NY with Lat 40 31, Long 75 15, time zone + 5, daylight savings - thanks
again!
Mike here: Have you downloaded the new version from Meade's web site? Reports are that it helps tremendously.


Subject:	  Mini Marathon
Sent:	Thursday, April 15, 1999 1:47:35
From:	OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz)
Well, last night (April 13/14) I left work early...at 1 AM (I work
nightshift) and took the ETX90EC/Autostar out to near Bowman's Tower in
Bucks County, PA, about 20 miles north of Philadelphia. Temps around 38,
low humidity, no dew. To the south/southwest, Philadelphia's dome of
light pollution made it useless to work on anything less than about 40
degrees above the horizon. That still left plenty of zenith, north,
east, west, northeast, northwest, and southeast skies useful. I have a
dark spot to observe from, but by no means consider it free of light
pollution. I could nearly read plain dark text on white background via
the skyglow. Nonetheless, it is a major improvement over being IN
Philadelphia, and is only about 25 minutes' drive for me. The summer
Milky Way is BARELY visible.

Anyway, sticking with M objects, I started with the Coma Virgo Cluster.
Hit 104, 49, 60, 59, 58, 89, 90, 87, 86, 84, 88, 99, 98, 100, 85, 64.
Many of these objects were at the edge of visibility from the light
pollution/skyglow, especially the ones approaching mag 10 or with low
surface brightness, while all that were [listed] brighter than mag 9
were fairly easy and showed some hint of structure. Missed 61.

Next I moved on to the UMa area. Some objects were also just on the
edge. Hit up 108, 106, 94, 63, 51, and the previously discussed
'elusive' M101. It was large and VERY dim...though mag listed as very
bright, it is extended and has a very low surface brightness, but it WAS
visible. Also did M97, the Owl, which is listed as mag 11 to 12, one of
the two or three dimmest M objects. Guess what! It was WAY easier to see
than the majority of mag 9 and dimmer galaxies, with even a hint of the
'owl' face visible. Missed 109.

From there I swung over to some summer objects, clusters M52, 39, 29,
71, then M27, the Dumbbell (VERY nice, but that is expected), 56, then
57, the Ring, also very nice (seems planetaries, even 'dim' ones, are
good subjects for the ETX from less than great skies), and then
M11..beautiful.

Tried Mars next, but there was too much turbulence.

It was approaching 4:30 am, and at that point I figured I had a good
night! Logged several...quite a few actually...M objects I never
bothered star hopping to with my 6" Newt, saw a few ol' faves, and even
saw a moving object (satellite, meteor, ??) in the eyepiece at one
point. In each major area, I used the Synch function, and the Autostar
was nearly dead-on for every object in the 26mm eyepiece, and even close
with a 12.7mm Ke on a couple.

Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery
Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place'
http://members.aol.com/OptiquesJN


Subject:	 New version of Autostar Upload available!
Sent:	Wednesday, April 14, 1999 7:07:28
From:	Watkins.Reece@bis.bls.com (Reece Watkins)
I know you'll get a lot of email about this, but Meade has a new version
of the Autostar Uploader on their site.  It is dated 4-13-99, and the
opening box displays version 1.1 of the uploader instead of version 1.0.
I peeked into the ROM files, and it's the same 1.1M version as in last
week's release.  The new Uploader will not execute if it doesn't find
the ETX on a serial port, though, so the trick I posted about compiling
the ROMs for comets, asteroids, and satellites won't work.  Haven't
tried it much yet, but will when I get home today.  Hopefully, it will
download the Sat/Com/Ast ROMs as well this time.

Clear (and dark) skies,
Reece Watkins


Subject:	 ETX / EC Alignment
Sent:	Tuesday, April 13, 1999 23:25:59
From:	paul.luckas@au.pwcglobal.com
The feature of slewing to the alignment stars during 'easy alignment'
provides a means to perfectly align your telescope without needing to
know which direction is which. In fact this is the quickest and easiest
way to align an EC.  First, assuming you've trained your telescope
drive, make sure your site, date and time are set correctly. Level the
telescope as best you can without getting carried away. Set home
position and orient the whole scope so that the tube roughly points
north (you should have 'some' idea of which direction your facing).
Again, don't get carried away with accuracy at this stage. Now, do an
easy alignment. You can use the unique feature that the EC provides in
slewing to your alignment stars to fine tune your alignment. The
autostar assumes that you've accurately aligned your telescope, and as
such assumes that the first alignment star will be centred. So instead
of using your arrow keys to centre the star, move the whole telescope to
centre the star. If you're using one of the fancier wedges / tripods use
the fine tune azimuth and altitude controls. Once the star is centred
you now have a telescope which is facing north, and levelled !  Simply
proceed with the second alignment star and the process is complete. You
can also use this method for polar alignment, and it's particularly good
for southern users who don't have a 'Polaris' (although - photography
aside - why you would want to bother with polar alignment with the EC is
beyond me). This method is unique to ETX as it is the only telescope
that I know of that actually slews to your alignment stars. The accuracy
of that first alignment star being centred is dependant on how well the
scope was oriented - so why not use it to orient the telescope ?

Note, it's never worth getting to carried away with alignment, because
inaccuracies in the mount / motor combination of this inexpensive
telescope will always introduce some error. For example, your second
alignment star should theoretically be perfectly centred, but it
probably won't be.

The moral of the story ?  Leave your compass and spirit level inside and
use the ETX to align your mount.

Clear skies,

Paul
(Perth, Western Australia)

Subj:	The ETX 90/EC saga, Episode IV: The Scope Returns
Date: 	Tuesday, April 13, 1999 18:39:59
From: 	rblake@io.com
I am a bit overdue to report back on my adventures in Meade Service
World. In earlier episodes we learned that my beloved ETX wobbled on its
base and got sent back. We learned that it came home unfixed. We learned
that it went back again amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth. We
learned that the first Autostar just got returned outright for credit
cause it would not come within a couple of finder fields of doing what
it is claimed to do.

Well, Meade made a decent job of it the second time around. Mounted my
optical tube in a new base and returned it to me 2nd day air. After
three months I have an ETX that functions as it should have in the first
place, and the optical tube is truly fine, if not superb.

Inspired by my good fortune the second time around I ran right down to a
local store to buy another Autostar. Just happened that four were in
stock. What luck. The keypad did not illuminate on the one I bought, and
when I took it back there were no others to choose from. I did notice
one other returned Autostar sitting on the counter behind the clerk, but
did not have the heart to ask what brought it back in.

So now I have bought a Rigel Quickfinder and will spend some time
learning to starhop.  (see photo on left below)

Notice the extremely high tech focusing device. Thanks for the
clothespin tip. One of the simplest and best solutions. Yes that is a
Scopetronix knob. It helps, but the clothespin is the ultimate solution.

I might mention a couple of eyepieces that I am quite impressed with for
this scope. (see photo on the right below)

One comes from Paul Rini. It is a 35 mm marked MER. I suspect that
stands for modified erfle. Who knows? Nevertheless, it is quite fine for
the price of under 30 bucks. Little chip at one edge, but fairly sharp
across a wide field that is claimed to be near 60 degrees. I don't know
if that is technically possible in a 1 1/4 in eyepiece, but I do know
that I  use it more than my 40 mm TV plossl that I bought about the same
time. In fact I will probably trade off or sell the 40, as the eye
relief is a bit too much for my taste. Here is a photo of the Rini
eyepiece next to left of the Meade 26  that we all have. I added the
eyecup from Orion.

The other eyepiece, on the right,  is a lot more expensive (by about 200
bucks), but is probably worth it. The TV Panoptic 19 mm is as good as
all the reviews that I have read says it is. It makes the 26 that comes
with the scope a little redundant  as the Panoptic field of view is
almost as great at the Meade stock eyepiece. The TV is very crisp, with
good contrast and if I could own only one eyepiece this would probably
be it. That is the same conclusion that Todd Gross came to in his piece
on the ETX (http://www.weatherman.com/wxastrob.htm) so I am not breaking
any new ground here.

Well I am rambling on now.  Thanks for the opportunity to learn from
fellow ETX owners and from yourself.

PS:
By the way the photos are with a Fuji MX700. Incredible little camera.
My first digital, and it does work as advertised right out of the box.
ETX ETX


Subject:	 How much play should the mount have?
Sent:	Tuesday, April 13, 1999 8:24:16
From:	scameron@ohiohills.com (Scott Cameron)
I've been having fun with my ETX-90/EC, but I'm concerned with the
amount of play (back-and-forth "wiggle room") there seems to be in both
the vertical and horizontal directions.

With the vertical and horizontal locks tightened "to a firm feel," as
the manual says (whatever that means...), I still have about 1/4" of
play in either direction. When the locks are tight, I can move the
optical tube or fork mount by that much. This obviously makes the mount
less steady and easily susceptible to vibration.

Is this amount of play normal? Can I eliminate it?

Scott Cameron


Subject:	 ETX Hand Controller
Sent:	Tuesday, April 13, 1999 7:49:48
From:	rwlange@PioneerPlanet.infi.net (Roger W. Lange)
Hi There ETXers;
Does anyone who has upgraded their ETX-90/EC to the Autostar have an
original equipment hand controller they would be interested in selling?
I'd like to do a little experimental upgrading of my old ETX. Please
drop me a note with your asking price. rwlange@pioneerplanet.infi.net
Thanks,
Roger (and thank you, Mike, for the site)


Subject:	 Autostar update report
Sent:	Saturday, April 10, 1999 20:23:27
From:	jherron@voyager.net (Jim Herron)
BIG TIME thanks to you and all the contributors to this site for making
and keeping it the outstanding resource that it is.

Without your site's info coupled with Jordan Blessing's clarification on
AutoStar update software (thank JB!) I'd still be frustrated with 1.0c
instead of optimistically expecting satisfaction with 1.1M.  Building my
cable from this site's specs was not that hard but certainly took me
much more than 15 minutes.  ScopeTronix suggests downloading SkyMap Pro
5 demo to prove their cables are functional, this was great for my
sanity as I suspected my homebrew cable was causing the AutoStar Update
software problems, SMP5 proved my cable was fine (the multi-meter was
right).

I did have some com port configuration issues I had fiddled with, so
maybe that was causing the problem with the Meade's  Win95 AutoStar
Update software not finding the AutoStar.  Or just maybe SkyMap
initialized the port and THEN Meade's Win95 software was successful. 
Who knows, I'm very happy to report 1.1m is now installed so others
finding themselves tangled in this procedure should not give up, if I
worked for me it should work for most. And yes it did take close to 40
minutes to download.

After some brief mid-afternoon experimenting with SkyMap controlling the
scope (indoors) slewing it, updating it's time to the computers time,
then slewing the scope via the AutoStar  and watching SkyMap's display
sync I'd say it seems compatible.  I like SkyMap's interface, very
nicely done.

So.. FINALLY it appears GoTo will actually go to.  It's raining tonight
but double checking slewing destinations via the setting circles seem to
indicate smooth sailing ahead.

I won't know if I can thank the 1.1M update , the umpteenth
reset/re-train or the new 12V converter to eliminate battery weakness
from the equation (Radio Shack Cat No 273-1653B), but I hope to report
in some positive results with the next clear night.
Added later:


The optimism was well founded, tonight the skys cleared, not really free
tonight but had to take a quick trip out back and at least try a few
GoTo commands.   Happy to say this combo (1.1M and stable 12V converter
versus 8 AA batteries) knows it's sky!  Two Star align on Alioth &
Sirius, quick GoTo Rigel.. centered in the eyepiece, goto Betelguese
centered, goto Venus.. aw nuts it's taking the long way around..  so I
step around the west side as the scope slews South to East. 
Unfortunately somehow I disconnected 12volt cable from  from the ETX
base.  Apparently it instantly switched down to batteries (65% was the
reported strength  2 days ago when I opted for the converter).  It
dropped slewing speed and the pitch went way down.. perhaps the posts I
read on battery strength sensitivity are on point?  What to do.. it's
still slewing.. maybe if I just plug in the converter it'll make its way
around and find Venus I really don't have time to realign.

Insert the converter plug and uh oh... the 2 line display goes dark but
the LED light is still on bright... Arrrgh moment of silence.. swith off
& on. It went through Initializing and displayed the Sun warning.  Good
enough for now.. I'm being missed inside.. appears no damage but I'll
never plug the converter in while it's operating on batteries again! 
I'll always shut down, then plug in and finally power up and realign.


Subject:	 Autostar serial cable
Sent:	Saturday, April 10, 1999 16:58:12
From:	bnakata@cybcon.com (Brian Nakata)
Since the Autostar firmware update is out, I decided to build my own
serial cable using Cameron Brennan's pinout on your Tech Tips page.  I
went to Radio Shack and found a nice 4-pin modular phone plug (P/N
279-298) that fits perfectly into the Autostar's serial port.  The neat
thing about this plug is that it allows you to insert the wires from a
cable into a hole in the back, set the appropriate wires into
appropriate slots, and screw on the cover.  The pressure from the cover
smashes the wires against some sharp contacts to make the connections -
no stripping or soldering required!

I bought that plug and a 6' DB9 serial cable from a computer store.  The
cable had a male and female end, so I cut off the male end, cut off
about 1/2" of the outer jacket, stuck this into the Radio Shack plug,
arranged the three wires appropriately, and screwed the cover on.  I
checked for the correct connections according to Cameron's diagram with
an ohmmeter, and plugged the whole shebang into my computer and
Autostar.  After playing the games that Jordan Blessing supplied on his
website with the Autostar software, the update downloaded the first
time!

The Radio Shack piece is $4.99 while the serial cable I bought was a
ripoff at $9 making my financial investment in this $14.  If you're not
mechanically inclined, I highly recommend buying the cables from
ScopeTronix - Jordan is en extremely nice guy and values his customers.

Food for thought for those DIY (Do It Yourself) people out there!

Brian


Subject:	 Another Autostar Software caveat...
Sent:	Friday, April 9, 1999 8:51:55
From:	Watkins.Reece@bis.bls.com (Reece Watkins)
You may wish to post that the Autostar 1.1m software update program
doesn't send the Asteroid, Satellite, or Comet ROMs to the Autostar,
even though there is a facility for creating the ROMs out of
specially-formatted text files.  To create these ROMs, start the
Autostar Upload program without having the serial cable connected to the
computer.  The options for selecting comet, asteroid, and satellite
files will then be enabled.  Pick the appropriate files, then press the
"Process All Files" button.  The ROMs will then be generated from the
text files.

Granted, this isn't much use as of now, since these files don't get
sent, but for the terminally curious, well...there you are.

By the way, I've written a small (410KB) Windows program called
SatSnagger that will grab the latest TLE (two-line element) files from
NASA's OIG server and let you save them for conversion to Autostar ROMs
using the above process.  Again, this is just a small convenience
program, as anyone with a browser could get the files themselves, it
just automates the download a bit.  If there's someone who has some FTP
space who'd want to post this, I'll make it available as unsupported
freeware.

Clear skies, and slopless drives,
Reece Watkins


Subject:	 Serial cable
Sent:	Thursday, April 8, 1999 3:49:55
From:	pluckas@cleo.murdoch.edu.au (Paul Luckas)
Just to let you know, I made  up a serial cable as per Cameron Brennan's
posting in the tech tips section and it worked fine.


Subject:	 New Autostar software
Sent:	Thursday, April 8, 1999 1:27:02
From:	Grizz2@prodigy.net (Craig)
Well I downloaded the new auto update software frome Meade and after
visiting Jordan's site and configuring it correctly I uploaded the new
ver. to my Autostar. It does take quite awhile to upload a good 45 min.
I now am running Ver 1.1M and you do have to start from scratch after
you upload. Re train drive..configure new site....just like out of the
box. I have very clear skies now so tonight should be great for a little
observing session. I'll try in polar mode and see what happens!

now to figure out how to upload the asteroid and comet data.

Clear skies

Craig

Added: I was out tonight and tried out the updated software. Well worked
great! Even in polar mode. No more "Below the Horizon" messages.Viewed
M35,36,37,42,45,44,NGC 869-886,Venus,Moon,M3 split Mizar (not hard) but
nice. and Castor. The update so far works.

Again Great site Mike and keep up the good work I'm sure all readers and
posters appreciate your dedication to the ETX.

Craig


Subject:	Alignment stars
Sent:	Wednesday, April 7, 1999 10:47:06
From:	Robunos@aol.com
As one of those whiney ETX Classic owners, I'm looking to upgrade to the
ec90. My query is as follows. My regular observing site has a partially
restricted horizon. When using EZalign, I'm worried that some of the
chosen alignment stars will not be visible from my particular site. How
difficult is a manual,choose my own stars alignment?
TIA,
       Robin.
Mike here: According to the manual on Meade's web site, you can just select another star using the controller.


Subject:	 Autostar Update
Sent:	Wednesday, April 7, 1999 10:23:51
From:	jblessin@worldnet.att.net (Jordan Blessing)
I am trying to get the word out on using the new Autostar software
update that has recently been posted to Meade's website. The software is
very poorly documented and somewhat buggy. It took me an hour to figure
out why it wasn't working and I'm trying to head off a barrage of calls
from owners of our cable thinking it is defective. For those of you
having problems getting the Autostar to connect using this software
please the (04/07/99) Newsletter at my ETX site
(http://web.archive.org/web/20100105230338/http://home.att.net/%7Ejblessin/etx.htm) I have posted instructions on
getting this software setup. Once succesfully run your Autostar will be
updated to Version 1.1m.  Thanks!
--
Jordan Blessing 


       ScopeTronix Astronomy Products
         http://www.scopetronix.com


Subject:	 Moon Tracking
Sent:	Wednesday, April 7, 1999 10:11:56
From:	jshy@widomaker.com (Jeff Shy)
I had the exact same problem tracking the moon as suggested by a
previous post.


Subject:	 AutoStar Feedback
Sent:	Tuesday, April 6, 1999 23:08:57
From:	pthorpe@mediaone.net (Peter Thorpe)
Yes the new AutoStar interface is available ... quick rundown:

1 The down load will re-set your AutoStar so you will loose any custom
info. Such as Lat. Lon.
2 Motors will need to be re-trained, select state and city and ......
just like new setup
3 The Windows install folder also contains version 1.1m of the software!
4 The interface is very buggy but it will get the job done
5 It will take at least 20 min for the whole download
6 It automatically found my com port, nice touch
7 Now you can select from a 70 90 or 125 ETX ... oh the mystery of it
all!
8 Have not had a chance to test it in the field yet (will polar mode
work?!)
9 The read me file actually has an e-mail address to send bugs and
comments to the engineers.
10 The help button does not work (it can't find the help file)

Ten is enough for now.

All Best Wishes and Clear Skies,
Peter


Subject:	 New Autostar Software
Sent:	Tuesday, April 6, 1999 14:09:32
From:	jwday@usa.net (Jonathan Day)
You've probably gotten a million emails about it already, but just in
case you haven't, Meade put up new Windows software for adding and
editing information in the Autostar today.
http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

-Jon


Subject:	 ETX bug fix
Sent:	Monday, April 5, 1999 7:47:35
From:	gushue@users.buoy.com (Steve Gushue)
I have seen several posts concerning the ETX scope with an Autostar
slewing more than 300 degrees to an object that is only a few degrees
away from the scopes point of aim.  I stumbled onto the fix for this
problem. Once the scope is obviously going to take the long way around
press the SCROLL key. I use the down button.  This causes the scope to
stop moving. Then press the GOTO key again and it should take the
shorter route to the desired object.

BTW for those keeping statistics, my scope is missing one verticle stop
but the viewfinder stops the scope instead... After this happens, I have
to realign the viewfinder. Obviously, I don't want this to happen. Maybe
I should send the scope back, but I watch it real carefully now.

Cheers and Happy Slewing,
Steve

gushue@buoy.com
www.buoy.com/~gushue


Subject:	 Deepsky99 Support for ETX!
Sent:	Friday, April 2, 1999 21:32:01
From:	mwyatt@pclink.com (Mike Wyatt)
I just checked out the Deepsky2000 astrosoftware now supports ETX.  It
sounds as if it includes a slide show function that lets you cycle
through objects that were previously set up in a planner using your hand
controller from outside even if the computer is inside.  The site is
definately worth checking out. They released the latest release of the
program on March 30th. I'm not affiliated in any way, I just made my
interface cable and was checking out the software...  Here's the
homepage URL
http://www.deepsky2000.com/
Regards,
----------------------------------------------------
Mike Wyatt
http://www.pclink.com/mwyatt
mwyatt@pclink.com
"Save a star, kill a light"
----------------------------------------------------


Subject:	 Meade Web Page
Sent:	Friday, April 2, 1999 8:22:41
From:	jhaley3rd@email.msn.com (jhaley3rd)
First of all, thanks for your site. Have learned from some of the
postings.

I am having some trouble with my scope.  I see I am not the only one to
have the EC slew 350 degrees to get to an object 10 degrees away.  Also
having trouble with lunar rate.  When it is in sidereal, with the moon
in focus, and I change to lunar rate to track, the d---- thing takes off
on me.  The moon goes out of sight.  If  I return to sidereal rate, it
recovers the moon and keeps tracking.  What am I doing wrong, or is it
the scope? I have tried to get on the Meade site last night and this
moring, but could not make a connection.  Anyone else having this
problem?
Joseph Haley
TAS (Tallahassee Astronomical Soc.)
jhaley3rd@msn.com


Subject:	 etx initialization
Sent:	Thursday, April 1, 1999 6:25:22
From:	r8e3j4nb@giex.coastalnet.com (renefigueroa)
hi mike i am new to this site and the "etx" scope. i just purchased one
from astronomics. so far very pleased with it. Barbara at astronomics
was very friendly and helpful in helping me choose accessories for it
and actually steered me away from a couple. the weather here in north
carolina is supposed to improve and i began to prepare to initialize the
autostar last night when i came upon the section asking for the nearest
city. i live in new bern, nc, far from all these great cities mentioned
in the software. is there a way for me to manually input my position to
the computer? any help here will be greatly appreciated.
thank you
rene figueroa
renefig@coastalnet.com
Mike here: According the Autostar manual (on Meade's web site), you can enter your own site under the Utilities --> Site menu.

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