ETX-90/EC USER FEEDBACK
This page is for actual user comments and information on the newly released Meade ETX-90/EC. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to both the original ETX model and the new model are posted on other pages as appropriate.
|ETX-90/EC Press Release (1/28/99)
ETX-90/EC Accessories (1/28/99)
|Meade #497 Autostar Supplementary Software Downloads (3/31/99)
Polar Alignment Technique (3/10/99)
Subject: ETX Purchase and Finder Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 1999 8:42:28 From: Christopher.Kovacs@Eng.Sun.COM (Christopher Kovacs) First, great site. Lot's of information. It help me decide whether or not to my an ETX. I resently purchased an ETX 90/ec and Autostar from Roger Tuthill Inc. I decided pay the extra $$$ to have the telescope pre-inspected due to some of the comments from other Meade purchasers. Like many ETX owners, the optics look very good. I still need to star test and verify this fact. I have looked at "false star test", looking at a distance porcelain power pole insulator with the sun reflecting off it's surface, and it does look good. The base plate is too flimsy for the deluxe tripod. I find that the scope can easily rock, back and forth, between the mounting screws. I plan to create a plate that can be attached between the base of the ETX and tripod to reduce this flexing. I'll pass on the information if it works good. Even though I purchased the telescope pre-inspected, I did find the following problem. The finder had terrible ghosting. I could not bring the finder to a sharp focus. The moon looked like a haze was surrounded it. I spoke with Tuthill, and they said ship it back and they would have a look at it. Before doing so, I went ahead and took the finder apart to see if I could find the problem. My first thought was that the prism was faulty or misaligned. I took the prism off and held up the objective and eyepiece to view if I saw any improvements; none was seen. I then reversed the objective lens, the view was now sharp! The manufacture had mounted the objective lens backwards! No one had inspected, nor pre-focused the finder or else this would have been caught. I removed the retaining ring, reversed the objective, and assembled the finder. No more ghosting, it's now useable. Perhaps someone can use this information. All in all, I like the scope and purchased it for the portablility and for visual oberserving which is perfect a perfect match for this telescope. -chris --------------- http://home.earthlink.net/~ckovacs/ccdimages/ccdimages.html (have a look)
Subject: Autostar software update Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 1999 14:19:26 From: Sawyer.Mark@mayo.edu (Sawyer, Mark D., M.D.) Great site. Just got my ETX a few weeks ago. RA motor died, sending it in for repair. Oh, well. Asked if I could send in my Autostar for the new & improved version in the same box; the tech said it'd be mid-April at the earliest before the new software was done. // mark
Subject: Re: ETX-90EC Sound Dampening Sent: Monday, March 29, 1999 19:38:58 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Wayne Powell) By the way, despite the negative comments below, I am so far impressed and happy with my ETX-90EC - but then I haven't received my updated AutoStar unit yet.... Well I have an update already regarding Sound Dampening. I decided to hold my breath and open 'er up to take a look inside. (Note: this most likely voids the warranty.) First thing that happened is the cover plate (base & battery compartment) flipped out of my hand and snapped one of the power leads off the pc board. Tsk tsk. Soldered in a power connection (two 9 volt battery connectors) so I can safely disconnect the battery pack in the future. Going in, my thought was to use plastic wrap to protect the inards and inject soft foam insulation (small expansion type), but it looked too risky with all the exposed gears and such. By using a plastic inlay first, I figured I'd be able to remove the foam insert when required (after it had hardened). But I decided against this approach. After testing some premium rug underlay (the type with a solid rubber backing attached to a synthetic "rug" batting) on the outside with a sound meter, by holding pieces between the motor unit and the meter, I figured I could cut the sound output at least in half. After much cutting and fitting, being careful to avoid gears and trying to keep loose fibres away from the gears (by putting the rubber side towards the inside and towards the gears), I did a pretty good job. But I'm worried about the amount of loose fibre (despite carefully trying to vacuum each cut piece) and I'll have to keep checking the fit to make sure it's not interfering. Some smaller pieces I mounted with silicone sealant, which makes a nice removable adhesive. All in all I wouldn't necessarily recommend this modification. Apart from voiding your warranty (I may need it, there seems like a lot of slop in my gears), the dampening seems minimal (and there's almost no clearance between the bottom of the battery compartment and the inards so it was impossible to insulate the bottom). All in all I'd say it's dampened the sound of the Azimuth gear by about 50% - it's still going to be mighty loud beside the lake this summer. When first opened, I discovered that there was grease slopped on the optic emmiter of the optic decoder. I doubt it's serious so I left it there, but since they greased up the decoder's timing wheel, I am concerned that grease could get between the spokes and screw up the timing. Has anyone observed this? The bottom plate and battery holder is thin plastic (compared to the heavy metal plate of the original ETX). No wonder people have tripod mounting problems. The mounting screws are securely mounted inside the unit, so if the screws are sufficiently tight it shouldn't pose a problem. However I find the battery case bulges a bit, so it might be hard to get a true flat union without using the rim of the base as a two point suport for a tripod mount. Beef: no ready tripod plate for my Manfrotto geared head, ARGHHH. Scopetronics has something, but being Canadian, the price is rather hefty. I will start with building my own mount using an oak wood strip and the appropriate hardware. I figure I can build it out a bit so there's a place to a compass and level (if the screws are in the proper alignment position, I haven't checked yet). I also took out the main OTA (which was as easy as it was for the original ETX, you need a Torx wrench) to check out the Alt gear arm (and insulate for sound dampening). Not much room left in there at all. I couldn't find the optical encoder, but then I didn't look too hard. I put some dampening pieces in there too, but it was impossible to get behind the motor to the outerwall without doing a major disassembly so the resulting sound dampening was very slight. I had one problem, upon re-powering the motors for testing, the first time, I found that the Alt gear speeds worked fine, but the Dec speed seemed stuck in high gear mode. I powered off and then on again and it worked fine..... hope I didn't damage anything. Has anyone else had this happen? I must say I am impressed with the substantial look of the metal worm gears and electronics Meade has packed in their new scope. First light was the moon. The tracking seems a little jerky, and reversing directions causes a short delay while the gears re-set. It seems fine in that movements stop on a dime, and reverse movements seem to pick up where they left off without too much jerking even though the motors seem to speed up for a nic of time (to catch up the gear slop I guess) before settling to the tracking speed. But I need to do more testing in this regards once I get a tripod mount rigged up. The hand controller buttons are a little finicky. Still much better than my old MotoDec. I can't wait to receive my Autostar. I've ordered the motorized Focus to try that out too. I like the new Dec/Azi lock. I also like the thought that has gone into the controller interface, including two Aux ports seems like a good idea. Putting an adjustment for the Sidereal tracking speed was also a great idea. I've built a small ccd unit from a cheap colour "spy" camera, so I'll let ya'all know how ti tested out after next weekend. Wayne Powell email@example.com
Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 1999 19:26:06 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter Thorpe) Meade #497 Autostar Supplementary Software Downloads are now posted at: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html BUT ... as of Tue night 9PM there is no way to get the downloads form PC to Autostar, even with the cable. What seems to be missing (but coming soon) is the AUTO Client Application for Windows that appears to be needed to make the upload to the Autostar. The upload page looks good so far though ... check it out. All Best Wishes, Peter Thorpe
Mike here: The Download page also notes that a Java application version is coming that will support downloading the software from within your web browser from either a Macintosh or a PC. Many thanks to Meade for the dual-platform support!
Subject: etx/ec-Vertical movement problems Sent: Monday, March 29, 1999 17:25:44 From: email@example.com (Gregg W. Kyle) I have had difficulty getting the Dec movement upwards when I engage the knob on the side of the right fork. The Dec motor always works downward with gravity, but I frequently have trouble with movement upwards. Repeated moving on the vertical axis, relocking and testing result in a fix, but it can take up to ten times before it will move upwards. Experimenting with the lock on the left side seems to help by loosening the smooth knob that holds the dec numbers in place. As a result I loose this setting circle becuase it then shifts around. No matter how much experimentation, AI cannot get the dec movement upwards with a dew cap on the etx.. Does anyone have any suggestions? Gregg
Mike here: It sounds like either the DEC knob is overly tight (although why that would affect only one direction I can't say) or there is some obstruction preventing free movement. When you move the ETX in DEC by hand (not electronically, can you feel anything or does the scope move smoothly?
Thanks for your response. By the way I've been reading your site diligently since June 98 and love it. It is my favorite site. Your devotion to the ETX is commendable and it has helped me a great deal. Based on your site I was able to trade in my old ETX at Natural Wonders. At this point I am not sure that is good or bad. The new etx works beautifully to guide you to objects that it used to take 15 -45 minutes to find and in some cases several nights of viewings. The bad part is that I'm on my third EC. The first one burned out on the Dec motor after one week (that one was really good too with great tracking, optics, and no play in the RA and Dec.). The second would not engage the RA and turn on its' horizontal axis. Now the third is getting loose in the Dec. It just will not engage tight enough to move upwards. In answer to your questions, I don't feel any problems in moving the scope by hand. It moves quite freely without any encumbrance. The problem seems that the Dec locking knob just isn't in adjustment such that it fully engages the dec motor. It is the same problem I had with the last scope with the RA. The motor would run without any movement as the RA lock knob would not engage. I think that when I loosen the left fork knob that holds the dec setting circle in place, it simply removes a tiny bit of friction that enables the poor engagement of the right fork dec knob to allow upward movement of the OTA. I really baby these scopes, so it is not abuse that is causing this problem. I had the old ETX for almost 9 months with almost weekly use and on several trips in its hard case and never had any problems. I don't want to return the scope a third time for a problem that can easily be adjusted. Several people have tinkered with these scopes now, and may have an easy solution. I called Meade, but the support person did not really have a good understanding of the problem and simply suggested that I send it to them. I'm sure they are coached to advise people not to do mechanical repairs on the scope too. At this point I don't want to return the scope to Meade either. I want to learn to maintain and adjust the scope myself for the simple mechanical problems - which I foresee for this scope to be frequent. On another note. Do you get out to Joshua tree or other areas in SoCal for viewing. So far, I've found the best area around SF is Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County - about a 45 minute drive from center city where I live. The only trouble is the park ranger kicked me out last time for not having a camping permit. When I offered to buy one, she told me I was not a camper and did not qualify to stay. On another occasion, I got run off by some rancher for trespassing on his property by pulling on to a dirt road twenty feet from the paved public roadway. Oh well - it is so hard to find good viewing areas!! Thanks again for all the great info on your site.
Subject: ETX_observations Sent: Sunday, March 28, 1999 14:16:33 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Gushue) Great site!!! I've been reading the posts since late December when I purchased a standard ETX. A week later and I saw the ad for the new ETX 90/EC. :( I returned it 2 weeks later with no problems through the Learning Smith. I've since purchased the ETX-90/EC with no regrets. Same optics but many more features. I also purchased the Autostar a month later. (As well as a 2x barlow and a 9.7mm eyepiece. Please don't tell my wife ;). As an amateur astronomer, I don't think I should be held to the 'professional' astronomer standards. It's fun to explore the sky but there is not always the time to do it. Living in the northeast also presents astronomers with the challenge of finding clear skies, what with air pollution and the worst light pollution in the country... Sometimes, I can only find a gap of 1 hour of clear sky for observations due to weather. So I have no regrets about using the Autostar to show me the way. AND the LOOK on my friends and neighbors faces when I show them a galaxy or planet that they have NEVER seen before is worth the $150 I paid to put it on their faces. I'm looking forward to camping this summer with the scope and enlightening other future astronomers, be they professional or amateur. That is what this scope is all about. No novice wants to see you fumble around to find an object in the sky. And a telescope is not useful if it is not USED for observation! Now with all that said, I will admit that I was in such a rush to use the ETX-90/EC that I did not read the manual. I ran into every problem mentioned in the other postings on this site, and the cause was ALWAYS operator error. The new manual from www.meade.com is more intuitive but actually contains all the information that was in the original Autostar manual. Setting up the scope to the proper HOME position is a must, but once accomplished the scope should never run into the stops. If one happens to run into a stop then the scope should be turned off and then re-trained before the next use. I have found that the easiest way to orient the scope in alt/z mode is to set it up by rotating the scope counter-clockwise until it hits the hard stop. Now rotate the scope and tripod together clockwise until the ON/OFF switch points to the WEST (this is VERY important). Finally, rotate the optical tube ~50-60 degrees clockwise until it points NORTH and lock it into the horizontal position (0 degrees DEC) as well as R.A (True North). You are now in the HOME position. This is exactly the same procedure as described by Meade but simpler IMHO. Of course, if the stops are not standard from scope to scope, your mileage might vary. Now to answer a recent question: The software version of the Autostar can be found by changing from Setup: to Statistics: ENTER: It now displays the amount of free memory 10.1K Char. free. Use the scroll button and it now displays: Version 1.0c A new version of the Autostar software is rumored to be coming out this week. Make the cables... Another interesting Autostar observation is that Meade has some new telescopes up their sleeves. Under the Telescope Model setting they list: ETX-90/EC DS-60 DS-70 DS-80 DS-90 DS-114 DS-127 ETX-125/EC and ETX-70/EC as available choices. Hmmm... Those of you thinking of buying a ETX-90/EC might want to wait and see if the ETX-125/EC becomes a reality. Still I'm VERY happy with the ETX-90/EC. I am experimenting with powering the telescope using Ni-Metal hydride batteries. They are expensive at $40/8 compared to $8/8 for throwaway alkalines but they can be theoretically recharged 200 times. They should also last longer. I'll let you know if they work or not soon. First check indicates that they will work fine. These batteries are available at Radio Shack w ith the specs of 1.2V @1200mA. The low battery alarm in the Autostar does not sound with freshly charged batteries installed. Sorry this is such a long message, but I've been reading and learning from your site for about 2 months. I figured it was my time to make a positive contribution. This is a GREAT telescope for the casual viewer and it will teach you the sky when properly equipped. Cheers, Stephen E. Gushue email@example.com www.buoy.com/~gushue
Subject: Autostar "bug?" Sent: Saturday, March 27, 1999 12:24:43 From: LooneyRoo@aol.com Occasionally, while I'm using my Autostar and when I use the GO TO feature, it will pick the long route around the sky, even though I know that it is going to hit a hard stop. Even when the image is within a few arcseconds of the finder, the scope will want to go the other way. To fix the problem, I move the scope past the object before hitting GO TO and it winds up moving in the same direction as it was before, but it stops in the correct place. I was wondering if my Autostar had a bug, or if there was something that I could do to correct the problem. It is not really a big deal, because it only happens occasionally, but if there is a quick remedy for it, I'd appreciate hearing how to fix it. Also, when I use the "park scope" function, the scope slews to the correct place and then makes minor movements to line up correctly. But for some reason, the scope thinks it went too far, and picks up speed again, as if it wants to do another RA rotation. This also is not a big deal, because when it lines up and is in the middle of doing a minor adjustments, all I have to do is hit an arrow key and it says that it is parked. Any information on how to fix these problems would be appreciated. Thanks. ~Noah
Mike here: I don't know if these are some of the "bugs" in the current 1.0 release but a new release is supposed to be posted on Meade's web site at some point.
Subject: Comments and question for etc 90/EC Sent: Saturday, March 27, 1999 5:56:10 From: MeteorMik@aol.com I took my new ETX 90/EC with the Autostar Computer out the last night for the first attempt at using it. The first 2 hours were quite frustrating as I couldn't seem to get the scope to slew anywhere close to the easy align stars picked by the computer. In desperation, I tried the original home position method stated in the paper manual and that did it. From then on, all objects were in the finder and almost centered in the eyepiece as well which was not bad for a quick job of positioning the tripod and leveling it. The key was that I could not turn the scope to the clockwise position all the way at first because it had been turned the other way too much so it hit the hard stop early. In effect, the new instructions for home postion online amount to the old ones when you think about it. You have to go counterclockwise all the way first to the stop in order to have the play to turn it clockwise and then 180 degrees counterclockwise as described in the online manual for the Autostar. My question is regarding the site setup. There are a number of people writing in that their longitude and time were pre-set incorrectlly. I need clarification. I live in New York and my computer is set for +74 longitude and +5 time. Is this correct or should it be - for both. I changed it to negative last night but am still not sure if this is what it should be? I'd appreciate if either Mike or someone commenting could clarify this for me. Thanks, Meteormik@aol.com.
Subject: AutoStar Version Sent: Friday, March 26, 1999 5:39:36 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry P. Thomas WA0GWA) I have been unable to get the AutoStar I bought to function properly even after changing the Longitude and GMT from + to - . A previous post indicated someone was using version 1.0c of the software. I can't find anyplace to observe what version I have except for the initial screen which indicates [1.0] which to me implies the first release of the software. I also can not find any place to get an upgrade which I'd be willing to install by making a serial cable. I am assuming the software as well as the database are in flashable memory inside the AutoStar. My only other course of action is to call the Nature Company and indicate it does not work and get a replacement. I am confident that the Calibration and training is good and the initial two stars asked for in alignment are Sirius and a star in the northern part of the sky I can't remember the name of. These are very close to being centered with no help from me. When I slew to something like the moon it is wrong ... very wrong. After changing the polarities of the Longitude and GMT it ask for totally different stars for alignment but did initally locate the moon but as I worked with it it seemed to get lost and started saying the moon was below horizon. Personally i don't know what else to try. Any suggestions! Thanks Larry ---------------------------------------------------- Larry P. Thomas wa0gwa voice : 1 913 888-0282 Krell Technologies fax : 1 913 782-9359 8960 Bond pager : 1 816 989-HELP Overland Park, KS www.krell.com 66214-1722 USA email@example.com
Subject: MEADE UPDATE Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 1999 10:16:06 From: HellMet1@aol.com Just a quick note, Meade has updated it's FAQ regarding home position for the ETX. This change occured since I checked it on friday the 19th. Seems to be more understandable now. Thanks, Scott
Subject: Trade - in Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 1999 8:27:46 From: JDeriso@Alphaind.com (Deriso, John) I second Mike Wrobel's experience with Natural Wonders. I swapped out my old ETX for the newer ETX-90EC March 22, with no trouble at all. My old unit was in absolutely mint condition since I bought it last June, still had the original packing. I had misplaced the Allen wrenches, and I had discarded the cardboard boxes for the 26mm EP and finder. We swapped out the wrenches, EP and finder to square things even. Unlike Wrobel, I succumbed (just got my IRS return) to buying the tripod and the Astrostar controller. Also, unlike Wrobel, I haven't had it out of the box yet... c'mon, weekend!
Subject: ETX-90/EC Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 1999 12:29:37 From: firstname.lastname@example.org After weeks of reading the EC feedback section to the point of almost being put off buying one, I finally purchased an EC and Autostar while visiting here in the U.S. Firstly, let me offer my condolences to those who genuinely purchased a bad one. To have experienced the disappointment of legitimate QC problems is unforgiveable, despite the fantastic store policies that seem to allow an unlimited number of returns (not easy here in Australia where stocks non-existant). However, to those who have reached for the keyboard to complain before bothering to read a manual, or at least learn a little about astronomy and how a telescope is supposed to function please be aware that you are reaching a potential audience of inexperienced thousands who may be taking your advice even though it is incorrect. For example, the gentleman who complained about the rotating RA circle not being 'at least glued' to the base. PLEASE ! (It is supposed to rotate !). While there have been a genuine number of QC issues, there have also been a very, very high proportion of user errors (my hat goes off to those who bother to correct themselves in a follow-up email, but to be honest probably shouldn't have been so quick to comment in the first place). For the record, mine works flawlessly. Stops on both axes, no backlash in the motors (in fact the Autostar has backlash compensation built in), and quality of product that in my opinion is well above the actual price when you consider the functionality of similar systems. As far as the autostar is concerned, provided you can read, the unit aligns and slews exactly as it should and is a remarkable product for its price. I'm no fan of Meade by any stretch, but I'm more concerned about the unsolicited bad advice that seems to be thrown about the internet without so much as a single thought to those who may be influenced by what is said. As a final word of advice to those thinking of buying, I attribute my purchase success to having my unit checked out by an authorised store, and by someone who knows about telescopes BEFORE purchasing it. In my case Oceanside Photo and Telescope. Clear skies, and happy slewing.... PL (Australia)
Subject: Autostar: Sent: Monday, March 22, 1999 18:52:35 From: email@example.com (Boris Ortiz) Still the best site for ETX info, thanks to all your great effort. Purchased a link cable for the Autostar from Scopetronix($20 bucks, no hassle as to correct connections) downloaded Skymap Pro5 demo, linked my laptop and Autostar after aligning the ETX and two key strokes later I was connected. Everything worked perfectly. Decided to purchase Skymap. Seems to be a good program. Anyone have any comments on the Skymap. Had previously tried to link to the Sky V4 level II but to no avail. Thought I would pass this on. Thanks. Boris
Subject: ETX-Electric Focuser Sent: Sunday, March 21, 1999 20:29:17 From: LooneyRoo@aol.com I purchased the old ETX in December, and enjoyed 2 great months of use. I frequently visit your site to read comments of other users and to see what updates Meade is making. I go to the University of Florida, but I bought my ETX at home in Miami. You have no idea how upset I was when I saw the introduction of the 90/EC. While at home on a break, I went to the store where I purchased my telescope, "Natural Wonders," and was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of the sales associate. She insisted that she had no idea that the new scope was coming out and demanded that I brought in my old scope for an exchange of the new one. (I went in there to buy a moon filter, and walked out with a new scope) I also purchased the Auto Star. What surprised me, is that she told me that I did not even need the box to return it. I noticed that other users have had problems in the past with their dealers, but "Natural Wonders" was great. I have nothing but great things to say about the scope. The only improvement that I would make is on the focuser. (Although this was a long letter, it does actually have a question in it.) Have you had any feedback on the electric focuser? I do find that when focusing on faint objects, the scope bounces a lot and I never really know when the object is in focus. Does the add-on decrease the bounce, or am I better off just trying to keep my hand steady? I really appreciate the hard work that you put into your site. As a novice astronomer, I was happy to see that there is a plethora of online info for new telescope buyers. Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, ~Noah
Mike here: As to the Meade electronic focuser, I assume it works similarly to the JMI MotoFocus, which I review on the Showcase Products page. I don't have the Meade one so can't comment.
Subject: ETX Autostar NEW manual on Meade web site Sent: Sunday, March 21, 1999 16:48:15 From: OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz) Just out of curiosity, I was wondering if anyone had any comments about the NEW, TOTALLY REWRITTEN Autostar instruction manual recently posted on Meade's web site. I down loaded and printed it out for myself. After thoroughly reading and reviewing it, I can readily say that it is light years better than the original, addressing many of the things that us early adopters were disappointed with about it or that were simply absent but still necessary in such a product's manual. It actually features complete, step by step instructions, with illustrations, of most of the operations and procedures, many of which received only cursory or confusing, non-illustrated coverage in the original manual. Most of the Autostar features are described in much greater detail, and there is a FAQ addressing some of the most common misunderstandings that have surfaced regarding Autostar operation. I did, however, notice that one piece of very useful information which WAS present in the original manual was absent in the new version, that being the procedure for entering a set of RA and Dec coordinates of your own choice, and having the scope GOTO those coordinates (it is found by using an option in the menu that is accessed by holding down the Menu button for a few seconds, revealing the Stats submenu, which shows the coordinates that the scope is aimed at at any given moment). Details for the procedures for entering your own observing locations, coordinates, making a custom list, and editing the entries were also apparently somewhat overlooked. Minor problems compared the major improvements the new manual provides. -- Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place' http://members.aol.com/OptiquesJN "If you don't change the path you're on, you'll end up where you're already going."
Subject: ETX-90/EC Sent: Sunday, March 21, 1999 11:21:40 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Kamon) The Discovery Channel Store near me allowed me to finally trade in my old ETX for the new one. But it took some heavy persuasion with several layers of beauracracy at their corporate headquarters before they finally agreed to the trade-in. I'm satisfied. It seems one of the problems they faced was that people didn't have all their original packing, less than perfect components, etc. So what people were doing was buying a new scope and then returning it but keeping a box, or exchanging an old eyepiece for the new one and then after getting all good components, finally trading in their old scope. Nevertheless, I'm happy. Plus I bought the new tripod and the Autostar. The new scope works great. Even w/o the Autostar, the new scope is a pleasure to use with the standard hand controller. Viewing the moon is so much easier with it. With the Autostar it's even better. You must take the time though to setup everything properly. I'm getting better & better at it, so it's quicker everytime. A word of caution. Inspect the scope at the store. The first one they gave me had some kind of dirt or shavings on the main mirror. No problem, they brought out another one. A couple of comments about the Discovery Channel store. If you sign up for something called the "Passport" you get a $10 certificate for every $150 spent, for use on future purchases. You have to wait for them to be mailed, but if you purchase a scope, tripod and Autostar, you'll be able to get a pretty good accessory when your certificates arrive. I.e. a Barlow, the 90 degree viewfinder, etc. Spoke with Meade the other day and the first upgrade to the Autostar software will be on their Web site around 4/1/99. You'll need some type of special cable(PC to Autostar). They said it would be available from them or they would explain what you would need to make one. Maybe Radio Shack will have the parts. If people are having trouble finding an Autostar, just start calling up Discovery Channel/Nature Company stores. I'm pretty sure they'll ship you one via phone order. Bill Kamon
Subject: No longer a 'Real' Astronomer. Sent: Saturday, March 20, 1999 13:21:40 From: email@example.com (Michael Wrobel) I went to my local Natural Wonder's store to take a look for myself at the much ballyhood new fangled MEADE ETX 90/EC. I told the salesperson that I already owned the previous MEADE ETX 90 model. I then proceeded to tell him about how much I liked my old ETX because of its portability and robustness ( I regularly carried it around in the trunk of my car with nothing to protect it but a MEADE ETX softcase ). I told him about how I thought that it looked much more robust than the new ETX 90/EC with all of its electronic gadgets excetera. Just before I was about to tell him the speil about how real astronomers go find faint magnitude 100 (my exageration ) objects on their own instead of relying on fancy Autostar GOTO eletronics, the salesman asked me three simple questions: 1) Did you buy your ETX at Nature Wonders. 2) Did you keep the original packing boxes. 3) Did you keep your original receipt. To these questions I answered, "Well Yes. Why do you ask ?". The salesman answered, "Well if you bring in the old one, we will let you trade it in for the new MEADE ETX 90/EC.". I asked, "What would be the difference in price ?". To this he answered, "No difference." To this I answered, "Well, I still like my old ETX because I am familiar with its optics and capabilities. I would have to think real hard about trading up and risking gettng a scope with different optics". To remind the reader, I am the guy who wrote in about the MEADE 9mm Super Plossl that had the dark blury spot in the middle of the field of view. I left the store, got in the car and proceeded home to pack up the old Meade to trade it in at that instant. Fortunatelly for my pride, my car died out on me and prevented from looking foolish by bringing the old ETX in for the trade that day. My car, in its concern for my appearences, continued to give me trouble for the next several days, further delaying any rash act such as trading in my old scope. I don't know why my car decided to act up that week. It ran almost perfectly for the first 187,242.8 miles. Perhaps all that time in my trunk, created some special mystical bond between the old ETX and my 1989 Ford Probe. I finally gave up trying to fix the car myself and took it into see Bruce, my local mechanic, I hesitated in suggesting my ETX delema as a possible cause of my car troubles. I figured that Bruce would not understand or appreciate my theorys on why cars stop running. It was good I kept my mouth shut, as it turned out that my car troubles were due to a worn out alternator not celestial mysticism. All the time dealing with my car let me ponder and muse about the ETX trade in issue. Bruce's bill ($321) and advice to "Shoot the old horse, and get another one." convinced me that my next major purchase would not likily be a MEADE LX-200. With my car troubles behind me I solemnly packed up the old ETX in its original carton and took it down to the Natural Wonders store. I meet the same saleperson and told him, "You know, after giving it a lot of thought, I think I might just take you up on your offer. I want to take a look at this new ETX one more time though.". After looking at it for a nano-second, I said "Are you sure I can trade my old scope in ? I bought it from you way back in April of 1998.". The saleman said "Yes". A half nano-second later I said, "Ok, lets do it" and traded the old scope in. Half feeling guilty about depriving the salesman of a new Meade ETX 90/EC in favor of my old ETX, I bought a ETX deluxe field tripod as well. This of course saved me from having to deal with mounting the new ETX to my old tripod. The salesman, sensing my feelings of guilt, offered to sell me an Autostar guider right there on the spot. Fortunatelly for me, I am an avid reader of the ETX/EC user comments on your Web page and was able to come up with the lame excuse of not wanting to get the Autostar until all of the software bugs have been worked out. With that said, I took the scope home and like a kid at christmas, eagerlly set it up and toyed with the new gadgets and features. First light for my new ETX/EC came the next night. Not being to familiar with equtorial mounts and elkctronically controlled mounts, I was only able to track down Mars and a few of the bright stars. Since then I have become familiar enough with the gadgets to get the scope to go where I want it. Every time I do take it out and use it, I keep thinking to myself about how nice the Autostar GOTO capability would be. I have purposelly avoided the Natural Wonders store since the trade because I know that if I go in, I will not be able to exit the store empty handed. The problem you see, is that I really like the Natural Wonders store and I will not be able to hold out forever. I will hope to at least hold out long enough to find that all of the software bugs in the Autostar have been worked out. No longer a 'Real' Astronomer Mike Wrobel.
Subject: ETX-90/EC Update Sent: Friday, March 19, 1999 15:10:33 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeff Shy) I posted a note a few days ago about the problems that I had with getting my autostar to accurately find anything. The best I could get was to have an aim that got almost into the finder scope. I was also concerned about excessive play in the RA axis. I had even called The Nature Company to ask if they would exchange the scope and they said, no problem, just bring it in. So, I called Meade and actually got to speak with someone. He suggested that I reset the scope, recalibrate, and re-train it. He also suggested using the two star alignment instead of the easy align to make sure that I was picking stars with sufficient distance between them. I asked about what I considered to be excessive play in my RA drive. I takes almost 8 seconds to change directions in the slowest speed. He told me that when autostar calibrates the scope, it measures the play and accounts for it when locating stars. I thought, yeah, sure. I followed his instructions, reset, recalibrated and re-trained the scope. Despite the instructions in the manual, I used a star as a target. As you can imagine, this technique requires making a slight compensation for the rotation of the earth as the scope is trained. But I figured that the further away the target was from my location, the more accurate I could be. I also used a 2x barlow lens with the 26 mm eyepiece to get a higher power (96) and greater accuracy. I took some care in leveling the scope (although the Meade guy said it was not necessary to have it perfectly level). Boy, was I surprised. Almost everything that I aimed at was almost dead center in the 26 mm eyepiece. Nothing was outside of the field of view. I decided to put the barlow on and to my amazement, at least half of the time the target was in the field of view at 96 power. And sure enough, the play in the RA drive was fully compensated for. I did notice that after the AutoStar beeped to indicate that the star had been found (at which time it was already in the field of view), I had to wait another few second for the clock drive mechanism to kick in. Once it did, it almost always had my object dead center. It worked great. Needless to say, I am greatly impressed. I have owned another small scope and never really could find much of anything. I saw more deep space objects in one night than I had ever seen in my other scope. I was not even in a good dark site, nor was the sky all that transparent, but I confirmed picking up things in the area of the 10th magnitude. I was amazed that the optics did that well on that type of night. I just wanted to forward this on as an encouragement to others trying to get their scopes up and running. All it that was really necessary was to take a little care in setting things up and the ETX makes one excellent, reasonably priced instrument. Thanks, Mike for putting together this great resource to help us make use of our scopes!
Subject: MEADE WEB site is ETX updated! Sent: Thursday, March 18, 1999 19:08:57 From: email@example.com (Peter Thorpe) The MEADE site now has: 1) New AutoStar Manual. Greatly improved! And printable from a browser. 2) ETX-90EC Telescope FAQ 3) AutoStar FAQ. Very good stuff here. Between the new manual and the FAQ many things are cleared up and much is set strait (pun intended). All Best Wishes Peter Thorpe
Subject: Autostar manual Sent: Thursday, March 18, 1999 13:18:33 From: OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz) Hello! It appears that Meade has just placed a new, totally rewritten Autostar instruction manual, along with a few other new items, on their web site. Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place' http://members.aol.com/OptiquesJN
Subject: ETX/EC Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 1999 21:20:07 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Don Barbee) When I saw the add for the ETX/EC I new I had to have it. So I donated my old ETX to my son and ordered my ETX/EC, Autostar and Field Tripod from Astronomics. Two days later I found all these boxes on my front porch ready for me to play with. I have carefully followed the directions. I use the scope in Alt-Az mode only. I still remember the first time it slewed to Sirius in EZ Align mode. Bang right in the eyepiece. Not in the center but I sure didn't need the finder at all. Next is slewed to Dubhe, yep right in the eyepiece, I made the slight corrections and pressed enter. I then asked it to go to M42, buzzzzz around it went and right dead center in the eyepiece. That night I also looked at M78, M43, M41, M35, M36, M37, M38, M44, M45, M81, M82 and etc. I must say I was delirious. When the great Jupiter, Venus Conjuction occurred I had them in that 48x eyepiece until I was tired of looking at them. Yes it tracked them right to the horizon perfectly. I guess I must be living right. Everything on my scope works. After reading all these negative reviews on your page I asked Astronomics about their return rate. Out of 140 units shipped (Late January) they had returned one to Meade. For those readers who haven't purchased an ETX/EC but are inclined to do so, Roger Tuthil offers Certified scopes for a nominal addition to the cost of the scope. He unpacks and sets up the scope and accessories and makes sure everything is working as advertised. He also offers THE BEST Solar Filter for the ETX that you can buy. Anyway Mike the site has gone so far beyond what you originally had here, its trully amazing. I really don't see how you keep up with it, please don't stop. Shoot I just realized I've got to buy another MOTO-FOCUS. Oh well... HINT - For EZ Align, Leveling is everything. But first do the CW, CCW stuff. In any event the control panel is on the West side and the small fork sits over it. Lock the Azimuth. Move the tripod to point the scope to the North and site in Polaris. Now return the OTA to horizontal. Leveling: Don't level using a tripod level. (What makes you think the setting on the tripod head is 90 degree's?) Set a small level on top of the drive base and adjust the tripod legs until the level shows good in all directions. Then put the level on top of the OTA (Right, don't trust that setting circle either!) and level the tube. Now turn on the power and perform the EZ Align and, Duh! It works. Just make sure you do a good training job in the daytime. Do it twice just to be sure. If you want to do the alternative two star align then leveling isn't necessary, only for EZ Align. Don Barbee (A.K.A. Marvin Martian)
I've also had some interesting dialogs with Doug Caan, although not recently. We both travel alot and even in this world of email it's still hard to stay in touch. I've also singled out a few submiters to help in the background. You know you can see where some of them have an obvious problem. Like the fellow that had 1/8 inch of slopp in the RA bearing. I'm glad tightening the nut did the trick for him. I just felt the need to give a positive report. The negatives seem the rule. We both know that most people are happy with their scope and they just don't write about it. As for this purist nonsense about learning the sky first. Using this little guy will teach you the sky. When it points in a direction to look for something you can't help but learn where its at. Then theres the problem of say looking for all those Messiers in the Virgo cluster. Are you sure your looking a M87? The only ringer in that group is M104! I wish Meade would get their act together now. They're very proud of where they've come from and what they've done, and rightly so, but little things add up. When I contacted them about the PC to Autostar connection, the guy who called me back said I was a little bit ahead of them. Huh? I really don't want to try LX200 commands because their are differences as there must be between the two. The LX200's don't even have the Easy Align mode. I bet alot of LX200 users wish they did have it! Perhaps Meade will release it as a system upgrade for the LX200's. They always seem in such a rush to get their new stuff out. In the case of Celestrons 90mm Mak, Meade doesn't need to worry. It's such a joke I can't believe Celestron even tries to market it on that german eq mount. The only people who will buy those things are the Meade 'haters'. You know like a Ford versus Chevy type argument. In this case however the Meade is clearly superior. You won't see the Celestron 90 Mak reviewed in Sky and Telescope. Ok, I'll dismount my soapbox now. Until the next time. All the best to your site.
Subject: Update on repairs for ETX ec Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 1999 17:41:31 From: email@example.com As you may recall, I sent my ETX in to Meade because of a problem with the fork rocking in the base and failing to slew in one direction when in polar alignment. You asked me to let you know how things went. I got the scope back yesterday. It is packed up and ready to go back to Meade again today because they did nothing to fix the problem. They did manage to replace the lever I broke thinking that cranking it a little tighter might solve the problem, and I know they opened the base, cause they left off the little stick-on rubber feet that cover the screw holes (my first sign that attention to detail might not be at the top of the list for these folks). I am looking for some positive lesson to share with you from this, but right now that is hard to come up with. I like a lot about the ETX, but I have also tried out a TV Ranger and if I had it all to do over again I might well give up what for me has been a zero benefit from the mount and the Autostar, and just go for stone-simple quality (expensive) optics. By the way, my Autostar went back before the scope did, and I don't even want a new one until they work out the bugs. Somebody at Meade actually suggested that I could download a fix from their web site, and I had to remind them that no such fix was yet available, and even if it was, no cable to hook up to my Autostar is available through official channels. Surely all of this will make me a better person, but I sure to envy those folks who got a winner the first time out and are happily automatically slewing from star to star at will. Count yourself lucky. I guess the best suggestion I can make to potential ETX buyers, is to buy locally from the Nature Company or some such place, check the scope out right away, and demand an immediate replacement if everything is not perfect. That will keep you out of Meade Customer Service world, and you might luck out and end up with one of the non-lemons. For my part, I do a lot of mail order, and am happy with my usual vendor, Astronomics, but there is zero advantage to buying mail order when the price is the same, and you stand a chance of getting a lemon. From now on, I doubt that I will ever buy another Meade product by mail order. Meanwhile, it will be another few weeks before we see if Meade Customer Service is up to the task. I hope they are, because I like the images I see through the ETX optical tube. Right now that is all I can evaluate because the rest of the ETX EC system has not performed as advertised so far. I hope I don't come off as a Meade basher. The ETX has the potential to be a superb value, and I remain hopeful that I am dealing with quality people in a quality company, but that has yet to be proven to my satisfaction. Again, many thanks for your treasure trove of ETX information, and thanks to all the other folks who share their experiences, both positive and negative. Richard Blake firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: ETX 90EC Autostar Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 1999 20:31:01 From: JeffB24@aol.com Great site, I found it the day I bought my ETX. Briefly, I recently discovered the delivery of my autostar controller was delayed because MEADE recalled all of them to correct the software malfunction everyone has noticed. I understand from my vendor (The Telescope Store) all new shipments were dealyed for at least six weeks. So, someone from MEADE is listening. Keep up the great work! Clear Skies! Jeff
Subject: ETX-90EC first light Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 1999 15:52:29 From: email@example.com (Kim, Jin H) When I was in the 2nd grade I spent most of my library Time at school looking at the astronomy books (about 20 of them). Most kids were still reading Clifford. When Carl Sagan's Cosmos was on TV briefly I taped the series and watched it numerous Times. I've been a subscriber to Astronomy magazine for years. I own several books on stargazing. I'm a member of the Planetary Society. Yet I've never owned a telescope until now. It's about freakin' Time. I saw the original ETX and I drooled over it for years. And then I saw the ad for the 90EC First light was a pigeon across the street on a rooftop. A rather auspicious beginning. The night called for cloudy skies but damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! I drove 150 miles to the desert only to be greeted with more clouds and haze. In defiance of the conditions I whipped out my 12 hour old scope and tripod. Armed with a sky map that didn't help me at all (wrong season) and no real light except for my car's high beams (a definite no-no) and without a working spotting scope (unmounted, uncalibrated), I looked around anyway. After several hours of hunting the hazy night skies, I finally spotted the only object worth mentioning. I don't even know what it was, other than it being somewhere in the constellation Hydra. But it was enough. Satisfied at this glimpse, I packed it up and headed home. 1. There is a ring of paper around the base of the ETX marking off degrees. This strikes me as utterly useless since the thing isn't even glued down and doesn't help to measure anything. The non-rotating part of the base has a little triangle which implies that this band does something, but not when it's loose like this! Is this unusual for an ETX? At least if they had another triangle on teh top part of the base the scope could be aligned to a "neutral" position. 2. Too much play, damnit! The tube isn't properly anchored to the fork! I'm this -> <- close to whipping out my tools and figuring a way to tighten the damnable thing down. And too much free play along the y axis. 3. As mentioned before over and over, the scope teeters too much when screwed to its tripod without any shims. I have no problems adding shims, but it seems like a great way to throw off the Autostar once I get that thing plugged in and running (didn't try it that night. Left the instructions at home and didn't have much of a clear shot at calibration anyway). Meade's Corporate offices are about 4 miles from my offices so maybe I'll take a drive down there and have them address my complaints.
Mike here: The scale on the base is the Right Ascension setting circle. It has to slide if you plan to use it to locate objects. Since the ETX RA motor drive does not run continuously, you have to reset the circle to match a known object's RA while the RA drive is engaged. Of course, this is only going to work when in polar alignment mode, not Alt-Az mode.
Subject: ETX-90/EC Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 1999 10:27:24 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Blaine Williams) Thanks everyone (especially Mike) for all the ETX comments you have helped me immensely. I purchased my ETX-90/EC and the Meade ETX tripod from Natural Wonders. I had the following problems: 1) slewing right and left would only run at high speed in polar alignment 2) slewing right and left in polar alignment would stop after about two seconds and then the button needs to be pressed again 3) sometimes slow speed would work and when zeroing in on something the drive would kick in and move away at high speed for about two seconds only in polar alignment 4) the scope would wobble excessively on the tripod I called Mike Lee at Meade who told me that if the tripod mounting screws were one inch long, they were too long and I should get a hacksaw and cut off about a quarter of an inch. I guess that the screws were pushing something inside when a sideways pressure was applied. I live near Dallas, which requires a serious 33-degree slant when in polar alignment. Probably the problem occurs less the further north (in the Northern Hemisphere) you live. Being a non-handyman and wary of return policies that dont like me cutting things, I made a plate to put between the scope and the tripod. The plate is made from three pieces from a cardboard box cut round to fit under the scope. The top piece has notches for the feet, they are glued together with holes drilled through. The three pieces gave me about three eighths inch thickness. I seem to have corrected all four of my problems detailed above. Everything about the scope is great! Clear skies! Blaine Williams email@example.com
Subject: EC Alignment Sent: Monday, March 15, 1999 19:27:33 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeff Shy) I just purchased a ETX-90EC and took it out tonight to see how well it worked. Manually slewing around the sky was very easy and I found a number of targets easily. I was quite impressed with the optics. I went through the training drive routine on Sunday afternoon and thought I had the thing ready to go for the computerized GOTO. I got the scope as level as possible on the tripod, pointed it north, and set it into the home position. I went through the easy alignment procedure on two stars. After that, I used the GOTO to find a few objects. It consistently centered high and to the left of the objects. I decided to try the alignment again. This time I took a little more care to make sure I was pointed north and as level as possible (which wasn't perfect). After this second alignment, I selected Betelguese and hit the GOTO key. It got to the general area, but high and to the left again. I manually slewed to Betelguese. Then I decided to try the GOTO feature to find Betelguese to see what would happen. The scope slewed about 90 degrees right. ????? From that point I tried to find Sirius. Sure enough, the scope started slewing right, and began heading right toward Sirius until it hit a hardstop. Any ideas of what's going on here? How important is the leveling of the tripod? I don' t think I had it entirely level. How important is the North alignment? It seems to me that the scope ought to be able to adjust for that. I also have a fair amount of play in the azimuth drive. 8 1/4. Using the non-Autostar controller, it takes about 1/4 second to get it to change directions in speed one and 8 seconds in speed 3. How much of a problem is that? Is there a way to take up that slack? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Subject: Adding new sites in Autostar Sent: Sunday, March 14, 1999 6:37:35 From: email@example.com (Hoekstra) Saw a couple posts about adding new sites in the Autostar and wanted to explain how it's done. When you select "Add" and it gives you a list of countries/states, you can scroll up one and it will say "Custom". Press enter to add that to the list. Next you choose "Select" to make custom your current site. Then you can go to edit and change the name, latitude, longitude, and timezone for your specific site. So the sites are added to your custom list, then you select a site from that list, then you can edit the details of that site if desired. I did this last week while on a trip to Terlingua, Texas where we were out in the middle of the Southwest desert mountains. I only had one night of clear skies, but man was it amazing. The ETX performed like a champ in Alt-Az mode and I was able to spend several hours viewing galaxies I have never seen before. There were so many stars visible naked eye that it made it hard to get my bearings at times and it was even a bit difficult to align the ETX because I could see so many stars through the viewfinder I wasn't sure which one I was supposed to be centering (okay Sirius was easy, but Alioth was tough). I am curious about the posts regarding a negative longitude and negative offset from GMT. I have not done this and my Autostar seems to be working fine in Alt-Az mode. Is this needed for polar mode? I haven't been able to get polar mode to work worth a darn. Can't wait till Meade provides an update to fix this. Thanks for providing such a great forum for us to exchange ideas, information, etc. Randy Hoekstra Richardson, Texas
Subject: ETX 90/EC Hardstops Sent: Saturday, March 13, 1999 17:15:16 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tony von Ruden) I had to send my ETX 90/EC drive unit back for repair because of a failure of the vertical motion drive shaft. It turns out that to implement those hard stops that everyone is obsessing about, Meade cut a keyway into the shaft. This leaves only ~3/32" of plastic taking all the torsional loads from telescope and any camera equipment you have hanging on it, and from the axial loads you apply to engage the vertical motor drive. The stress concentration near the keyway then magnifies these stresses at least two times. It may be that all those scopes rejected for not having stops may actually prove more robust than the newer ones, if they are missing the keyway. Ironically, when I opened my unit up to see why it failed, I also noticed that one of the vertical stop tabs was 3/4 of the way torn off, so they aren't designed to take much load either. Anyway, these are the two lessons I've learned that I want to share: 1. BE VERY CAREFUL TIGHTENING THE VERTICAL CLUTCH, LEST YOU OVERSTRESS THE VERTICAL DRIVE SHAFT. 2. DON'T STORE YOUR SCOPE WITH THE VERTICAL CLUTCH ENGAGED, LEST YOU DAMAGE THE VERTICAL STOPS. Thanks to all for making this such a great site! Tony von Ruden
Subject: ETX-EC Questions Sent: Saturday, March 13, 1999 11:05:17 From: email@example.com (Jim Lowry) Just received my new ETX marvel in Switzerland, sent from a US Natural Wonders. Obviously, I am hoping that I am not going to have to deal with return issues. However, I have some unresolved questions: 1) It is obvious that correct orientation and level tripod are necessary for the easy alignment to work properly. But once you are synched on two stars, does the error get eliminated. With an LX-200, you can be as skew as you wish, and once the two stars are determined, the computer aligns its "electronic" picture correctly. My feeling is that the ETX does NOT do this. Comments? 2) Switzerland is +1 hours from GMT and +008 degrees longitude. Does Meade follow these conventions. Many of the comments here recently seem to point in different directions. 3) A few people have described the AltAz tracking as a hum. Mine is more definitely a staccato barrage. Not sounding like gears chewing apart, mind you, but CERTAINLY not a hum. 4) How long is an acceptable backlash time? What I mean is, when tracking in AltAz, and you press W (retrograde) key, how long after you stop should the gears catch and the staccato barrage start up again? With mine, it is 3 to 4 seconds. Too much? Take none of this as criticism of Meade or the ETX EC. I don't regret selling my old ETX at all, and I feel that the optics and mechanics are FAR above what one may expect to get for the money. A great bargain, and a wonderful addition to our tools of exploration. Thanks for your great site, and service, and time. Jim far up in the Alps firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: New ETX Worth it? Sent: Friday, March 12, 1999 18:07:39 From: email@example.com (Dick Walters) I'm starting to read e-mails questioning the advisability of buying a new ETX-90/EC now, if at all. As a rank amateur who recently purchased an old ETX, took it back for an EC, then had to replace the EC due to a mechanical problem, my advice: YES, just be careful. Before you take it home, check for smoothness of the focus knob (improved from the original ETX), if the DEC hard stops are there (missing on early production) and of course, the optical tube. Nothing should rattle. The new scope is a wonder, especially for a beginner. The negative comments I've heard are probably typical reactions to a new product that has, until recently had poor product support from Meade. There have been apparent QA problems, so look it over carefully, or have your dealer do so before you take it home. (Mine came without the promised Dec hard stops). The Autostar has some quirks, but mostly in the "polar" mode, which you may never use unless you get into astro photography. It's a computer, so one shouldn't work much differently from another. Same firmware version 1.0. As for the table tripod, forget it unless you don't plan to buy the Autostar. Go for the regular Meade ETX tripod. You may find the screws that attach the scope are a bit too long and bottom out. Use a 1/4" washer till Meade can send you a replacement. Set it up carefully (home RA is fully CCW then back CW till the yoke with the small knob is over the control panel; not what you'd expect, but it works. Tube level (use the tripod bubble) and point it North) If you do those things, it will go-to the objects you expect. If you don't, you'll freeze out there trying to locate anything. Most Autostar problems seem related to setting the scope in the proper "home startup position". One nice thing is that the software in this baby can be updated via the Internet and patches are already being beta tested. I understand Meade is planning a major overhaul of their WEB site to feature the ETX and provide more info, software downloads, etc. Believe me, they have a winner here and don't intend to blow it. Save for the right angle viewfinder coming this summer. The one that is provided for either ETX is a pain, unless you work in a Circus. Others on the market invert the image and do not appear to be the quality of the new one. Consider the new hard case. It's cool. Most of the accessories for the new scope are not shipping yet, but should be shortly. Frankly, if I were a more serious student of the heavens (or younger), I might enjoy the challenge of learning by searching the heavens. I'd go for a big scope and lug it around in a truck. With limited time to play, and limited money to spend, the Autostar/ETX-EC combo is fantastic. It's a bit noisy when it moves, but hey, so's your car going to a dark place to use it. Dick Walters
You DO have to train this puppy if you expect it to come home to you.
Subject: Scope/AutoStar Review and Possible new Scopes Sent: Friday, March 12, 1999 12:00:05 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Welles G Hodgson) First, thank you so much for your web site. I live in Hawaii and am just getting into Astronomy. The last time I really looked at the stars was in Boy Scouts some 20 years ago. I am now an engineer and very particular with the quality of equipment. Originally I was going to get an LX50 but with the more positive than negative responses and recommendations for the ETX-90/EC, change my mind. From all the feedback from the many users, I learned much before actually purchasing my scope. The first scope did not have the hard stops. I wouldn't have known they were to be there if it wasn't for your site. I had a problem with the drive also. So from your site and the many Star Friends , I knew I had a bad scope. I also purchased my equipment from The Nature Company and must agree with everyone, "Why Buy It From Anyone Else!" The store personnel here in Hawaii have been outstanding, checking the other scopes for hard stops. Too bad Nature Company is having to go through the ringer because of the defective equipment Meade is slipping through their quality control. I also purchased the AutoStar. After reading the many posts, I checked my location's Lat./Lon. -OK. I then re-calibrated the motors (just to be safe), placed it on the tripod, and then trained the scope very carefully. Next I set the home position (following the instructions form your posts) and waited for twilight. I did an easy align using the two stars (I'm so new I don't know the names or star locations I only aligned it to the bright stars the scope pointed to) and then said go to Jupiter. The scope did not go to the star I thought was Jupiter but pointed to something I couldn't see. So I manually slewed the scope to the star and pressed identify on the AutoStar - Venus, WOW. I next selected goto Saturn. The scope moved - homed in, beeped, I looked into the eyepiece - There was Saturn. I put in the 2X barlow with my 26mm - 96 mag and there were the rings clear as day - no pun intended. I'm hooked! So everything works fine on my configuration. No collimation problems(as far as I can tell), smooth movement in both alt/az directions, easy focus. There does to appear to be two small problems though. One is with the lever on the base to tighten down the forks, it is made of plastic and sits onto of the bolt head. The set-screw was striped on mine and so the lever is loose. I figure a little double-sided-foam sticky tape will take care of the problem and lift the lever just high enough so that it doesn't scratch the base when it is swung back and forth. The other problem appears to be some dust on the primary mirror. - Have others seen this? In all I am quite pleased with the System - BUT! Now back to the AutoStar. My AutoStar version is 1.0c. In selecting the telescope model during setup I decided to check what other models were there - guess what, two more ETXs - ETX-70/EC and ETX-125/EC. MEADE LOOKS LIKE THEY ARE COMING OUT WITH A 5 INCH ETX IN THE NEAR FUTURE. THE HAVE ALREADY PROGRAMED THE MODEL INTO THE AUTOSTAR. I post this model information on to let any very recent owners or prospective buyers that they may want to move quickly. How long will it be before the new scopes come out and how much - who knows but I expect they will be deployed just like the ETX-90/EC, one day not there the next day in the display case. Happy star hunting my star friends Welles...
Subject: ETX-90/EC and Autostar Problem Solved Sent: Thursday, March 11, 1999 21:56:23 From: email@example.com (Don Metzner) After reading Jerry Bame's inspiring comment of March 8, I went into the site menu, then to edit, when asked for the lat. I put in Sacramento at 38 degrees+ then went to longitude and changed the + to a - 121degree's west then changed the GMT time from +8 hour to -8 hour then I went out in the cold, hoping this would work. I have been trying to get the "goto" function to come within an a couple of inches of the finder scope for 3 weeks, without alot of sucess. Well out in the cold I 1. Leveled the base very carefully, so that it was level as I rotated it around the alt/az axis(I have my ETX on a tripod with a Bogen swevel head. 2. Have the control panel facing west. 3. Have the fork with the dec. numbers centered over the control panel, the home position, to arrive at the home position rotate the OTA counterclockwise to the hard stop, then rotate clockwise about 1/4 turn until the fork with the dec numbers is centered over the control panel this is now the azt/az Home position.4 Have the OTA pointed at Polaris 5. Have the OTA Level (approx. at 0 on the dec scale, I use the level cause my scale is off about 1.5 degrees. Now with all this done go to align (in the alt/az mount mode) press enter, it asks if you want easy align, push enter it slews to Sirius and it hit it DEAD CENTER in the 26mm eyepiece, first time that has happen, I am getting excited,so I press enter again and it heads for Alioth and again DEAD CENTER, that is pretty much the way it went for an hour and a half. Never went the wrong way, never hit the hard stop, all the problems I had been having seem to be related to wrong longitude entry, wrong GMT entry, and not following the proper setup procedure (level). Hope this helps. Regards to all, this is a great asset Mike thanks for the Web page. Don Metzner in Loomis, CA
Subject: A friendly suggestion for ETX-90/EC buyers Sent: Thursday, March 11, 1999 8:12:25 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Meade Daffron) I've been reading a lot of negative comments about the ETX-90/EC and Autostar lately. Maybe they're deserved, maybe not. I for one, being a ham radio buff who's used to new electronic gizmos being introduced to the public before the "bugs" have been worked out, have not ordered an Autostar for my /EC yet. Yeah, so it's unfair to "test" a new device on the purchasing public. So what's new? How about new cars? Computers? Windows 95? C'mon, 'tis the age of bugs! I have been reading comments from "versed" amateurs that the ETX-90/EC is a bad choice for beginners since the GOTO feature keeps them from learning the night sky. I agree on that point -- learning the sky is vital; I've been into this hobby for 20 years. However, these people should keep in mind that the ETX-90/EC doesn't come with the Autostar. GOTOing is an option. I've had my plain ETX-90/EC for 2 months now, and I've got to say that the "simpler" handbox that comes standard with the scope makes things much easier than with the "classic" ETX. I can't begin to describe how much easier this scope is to use when you can use the smooth slewing controls without fumbling around with tiny locks and knobs in the dark. In fact, once you learn to use the standard handbox by feel alone, it's amazing how fast and effortlessly you can get around. I'm having so much more fun with the "standard" ETX-90/EC, I'm now debating whether I'll be buying the Autostar at all! It definitely isn't a priority -- maybe since I took the time to learn the sky as a youngster. Who knows. My suggestion to all of you who are considering an ETX-90/EC but are now having second thoughts -- buy the ETX-90/EC and WAIT! on the Autostar. Let 'em work the bugs out, and learn a little about starhopping, right ascension and declination while you're waiting! Two responses to posts in your March 10 ETX-90/EC update: 1) THANK YOU SO MUCH to the amateur who sent in the photo of the ETX-90/EC RA gear assembly! Fortunately, I haven't shared his problem, and the curiosity bug hasn't bitten me enough to remove my base. However, the appearance of those big METAL gears and METAL housing looks like a HUGE improvement over the wimpy "toy car" innards of the "classic" ETX! (BTW, if his ETX's little rubber feet won't re-stick to his base when he puts the base plate back on, Radio Shack sells those too. I'm tempted to buy a pack and stick three more on my base, making six. You know, I believe the original ETX had five feet -- seems they would've had at least that many on the new one, especially since the new one will see a lot more use in alt-az mode. It even looks like there are places on the base between the existing feet where extra feet were intended ... anybody else notice this?) 2) The final post on your March 10 update mentioned a problem with the declination circle being inaccurate -- I believe the amateur said it was roughly 1.5 degrees off. Solution: With the new ETX you can still loosen the LEFT declination knob (the non-knurled one over the marked setting circle) and rotate the circle independently to fix any error. Had to do it on my old ETX to make both circles agree, and I've already done it with my new one because mine was off a little too. Mike, thanks again! I've seen some "imitator" ETX sites, but as M.C. Hammer used to say, "Can't touch this!" Meade Daffron A very satisfied ETX-90/EC owner Richmond, VA
Subject: Site Selections on Autostar Sent: Thursday, March 11, 1999 0:58:15 From: OptiquesJeff@worldnet.att.net (Jeffrey Nutkowitz) Among other things, Liem asks: "But then I thought, if Add behaves like Select, maybe Edit behaves like Add. Has anyone tried to add a new site to the database? Did you have to use Edit to add the site? And if you did, what happened to the site that was currently selected? Is it still in the database, or was it edited with the new site parameters?" And so on. I cannot answer the most logically important questions, especially regarding the Edit function, as I have not tried it. What I have done is Add a site. What happens is that I had to select another site from the main list of countries, states, and cities, and then it was added to a small list, which contained only the very first site I used when I first set up the Autostar. So, now, if I use the Site>Select (I THINK!) sub-function, I can choose between the two sites I have added...Camden NJ and Phila PA. (depending on which side of the Delaware I happen to be on at the moment...LOL...actually the Camden site was selected as the closest one to the Wharton State Forest in central/south NJ, part of the Pine Barrens, and one of the darker and most practical observing sites I have found within an hour of Philadelphia) Delete will assumedly remove one or the other from my tiny list. I suppose the object here is to create a list of your most frequently used observing sites, so you do not have to always select them from the much larger main list. I too am curious about how to add a site that is not listed in the main list, and about what happens when something in it is edited. In reality, as long as the site selected is within about 60 miles of the actual observing site, the timing and other functional differences in the computer, between the selected site and the actual observing site, are pretty much irrelevant for all practical observing purposes. Yes, yes, I know, some folks, including myself, do want to be able to enter the precise coordinates of their favorite observing sites, which, in many cases, are nowhere near any big cities or the main sites listed in the computer. Hopefully the procedures will make themselves known as more of us get some more experience with the Autostar, or more info is forthcoming from Meade and other sources. Jeffrey Nutkowitz/Optiques Classic Photographic Imagery Freelance Outdoor and Nature Photography Emphasizing a 'Sense of Place' http://members.aol.com/OptiquesJN
Subject: Autostar mind bender Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 1999 15:00:36 From: email@example.com (TODD SYME) We too have the below the horizon bug. We are in Mi. at the Pontiac location menu choice. Trying to polar align on the field tripod the autostar tells me that the alignment was successful but when I use the goto menu I get below the horizon on objects that are clearly visible. All is well in alt/az mode. Thank you for all the great info on this site. I hope meade fixes this soon. Todd & Nina Syme firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Slop in Fork Axis Sent: Tuesday, March 9, 1999 16:29:26 From: email@example.com (Mindspring Email) This email is a follow up to a previous message you were kind enough to post concerning excessive slop in the fork axis of my ETX-90/EC. Also, many thanks to those who reponded to my post. The responses left no doubt that my scope had far too much play in it.
What I have learned may be useful to others. The bottom cover can be removed from the base by removing the three screws hidden under the rubber feet. The photo shows the gear assembly which drives the fork axis. What I found was that the large nut seen directly under the gear at the base of the fork axis was so loose I could easily turn it with a finger. I simply snugged it up using my finger. This simple adjustment removed all of the vertical movement in the axis and 90% of the slop. Movement on the fork axis is now very smooth and steady. I hope this proves useful to others.
Subject: ETX-90/EC Sent: Tuesday, March 9, 1999 10:52:06 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Janocik) Much to the shagrin of my wife, I went out an bought the new ETX-90/EC despite being a current owner of the classic ETX Astro. I am intrigued at the ability to computerize the mount so, for $750.00 I can get portable, first-rate optical performance, coupled with computer controlling capabilities. You cannot beat this value. I have seen many complaints on this board regarding the new unit, so I thought I would offer a different perspective. I went to the Nture Company (why go anywhere else), purchased the scope, brought it home, unpacked it and alas - QUality is superb. I have horizontal and vertical stops, a base with no slop, a focus knob that is smooth, great optics with no collimnation problems, smooth movement in both alt/az directions. Great lense, no dust, not grease, no scratches. All in all, an impeccable instrument. Oh, and also, I do not find the instructions all that bad. Just wanted to give my 2 cents. Mike, thank you very much for your site. Cordially, Michael J.
Subject: Polar Alignment Problems Sent: Monday, March 8, 1999 10:17:45 From: email@example.com (Wayne Boeck) I have a similar problem as others have mentioned concerning autostar alignment. I have gone thru setting my mount to Polar, and then trying the easy align, it slews to select both stars and says that it is aligned properly. However, when I select an object like M42 it says that it is below the horizon. It repeats this same message with any object that I select which is well above the horizon. I did try the two star alignment option. After selecting the second star, the autostar said it was calculating and then said error "Not properly aligned". However, if I select M42 it will slew to it. I am practicing with this in my home so I have not tried the scope on any celestrial objects. I have not yet trained my scope. Maybe this is where some problems lay. However, I hope Meade places their software patch on the web soon. It will be nice to have the bugs worked out before I attempt to show it off to someone. I hate looking like a fool. Thanks, Wayne
Mike here: From what I read in the Autostar manual that is posted on Meade's web site, it appears that you do have to calibrate the Autostar for your telescope and train it for your drive. If you haven't done that, I suspect things will not work properly.
Subject: ETX woes Sent: Monday, March 8, 1999 8:45:25 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Blake) I learn so much from your site, that I figure I have some obligation to share my EC experience. I sure do envy those folks who have one that works as advertised. My scope is back with Meade for repairs. Here is an excerpt from my letter that accompanied the scope heading back to them. So here are the problems. The fork arm mounting portion of the base wobbles around the central pivot. That is a minor irritation, but it may have something to do with the big problem that occurs when you try to run the scope in Polar mode . Apparently the leverage on the mount in Polar alignment shifts something out of place internally, because the scope will not slew in azimuth properly in both directions. It slews in one direction OK, but will just stick and emit a louder than usual screetch when attempting to go the other way. No problems with declination that I have noticed so far. I could have lived with that problem for a while if the Autostar had worked, cause the scope wobbled a bit but seemed to work OK in Alt/Az . I read all the posts and did all the right things and spent very little time viewing, and a lot of time fiddling. Sent the Autostar back to Astronomics for credit. I have had nothing but good experiences dealing with Astronomics, but will probably purchase my next Autostar locally so I can keep taking them back everyday until I find one that works. No doubt, Meade will sell a jillion of these little scopes, and I will probably keep mine, but if this had been my first purchase, instead of my third, I probably would have just given up in frustration, and looked for something else. (I know there is nothing else comparable at the price, but all the wondrous features don't mean much when they don't work) However the little scope has a lot of potential, I am encouraged to read of other's positive experiences on your site and elsewhere, and I want to see for myself what the ETX can do when it performs properly, so I will stay the course for now. Thanks to all the folks who have share their experiences -- both good and bad, and thanks again for your very helpful web site. email@example.com
Subject: ETX-90/EC and Autostar Sent: Monday, March 8, 1999 8:08:02 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jerry Bame) Once again kudos for a great site...couldn't get by without it. I sold my old ETX for $400 as soon as I heard about the EC. Just picked up the Autostar last week and was immediately bummed. Although it would find Sirius and Alioth ok it couldn't find anything else after the Easy Alignment. A quick trip to your site solved the problem. I had selected Englewood, Colorado as my home site and upon investigating the latitude and longitude settings I noticed that Meade had really screwed up. They had all west longitudes as positive (+). West longitudes should be negative! Also they had the time zone as GMT +7 instead of GMT -7. No wonder my Autostar couldn't find anything, it thought I was somewhere in China!! Once I fixed the problem, the Autostar put everything in or very close to the field of view for the 26mm plossel. I saw more objects in one night than I'd ever seen before. What an enjoyable viewing session! Who cares about the viewfinder problem, the Autostar makes it so you don't need to use it as much if at all. Hopefully Meade has fixed this problem for the Autostar update. My next step was to make the RS-232 cable per instructions on your site and download the Skymap demo software. Bingo, works like a charm and makes viewing even easier because you don't have to scroll through the Autostar items and HOPE you chose one that is visible. Just point and click on your laptop and you're there. I thought the original ETX was great but the new one + Autostar is a VAST improvement despite Meade's screwup. Clear Skies, Jerry Bame email@example.com Viewing @ 6100' msl
Subject: My page on ETX+Autostar in Polar mode, and some thank you's Sent: Sunday, March 7, 1999 23:03:02 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Liem Bahneman) http://asteroid.org/liem/etx-alignment.html Its a document that I have composed that steps you through getting your EC+Autostar working in Polar mode. Its not official or guaranteed, but it does get me through an evening on viewing, aside from the times when the Autostar likes to rotate 370degrees to get to a star that's only 10 degrees away (and usally hitting a hard-stop on the way). Anyways, good luck, and let me know if you find any problems with my documentation. Also, I want to thank Marc M. Triola, M.D. (email@example.com) for his tips on parts from Radio Shack, I now have working power supply, as well as Cameron Brennan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the pinout to a working serial cable! I now have some computer control of my ETX (one-step closer to a remote-access, CCD-powered observatory!). Any ETA on Autostar API documentation? - liem ============================================================================ Liem Bahneman email@example.com Senior Systems Administrator http://www.cobaltgroup.com/~roland The Cobalt Group (206) 269-6363 x300 Seattle, Washington F(206) 269-6350
Subject: ETX-90/EC Autostar info Sent: Sunday, March 7, 1999 16:28:47 From: Kavorka6@aol.com I found something strange when I tried to add a new site to the Autostar database. When I first initialized the Autostar, I picked the closest city to me that was already in the database (only 25 miles away). Now that I know my exact location, I thought I would add it to the database so that GOTO might be even more accurate. Here is what I found when trying to add a site. There are 4 items in the Site submenu: Select, Add, Delete, and Edit. Under Add, the Autostar asks for the country and nearest city, as if it was trying to 'select' a site from the database. So then I tried Select. Under Select, the Autostar displays the currently selected site, but you can't 'select' a different site. The scroll keys do not scroll through the other available sites. As far as I can tell, Select does nothing other than show what is already selected. Hmmmmm.... so what does Edit do? Edit behaves like it is going to edit the currently selected site. I can choose to edit the name, latitude, longitude and time zone. But will it actually change the current site and save it? I didn't try it because I don't want to change the parameters for the current site. All I want to do is add a NEW site. But then I thought, if Add behaves like Select, maybe Edit behaves like Add. Has anyone tried to add a new site to the database? Did you have to use Edit to add the site? And if you did, what happened to the site that was currently selected? Is it still in the database, or was it edited with the new site parameters? I guess I will ask Meade customer service about this, but right now I am not comfortable with their knowledge of the product. I thought I would get a more accurate answer here! The backlash in the gears (especially the declination axis) is annoying. Also, I think my optical tube points up slightly (about 1.5 degrees) when the setting circle is at 0 degrees. There is a vertical stop that keeps the optical tube from hitting the base, but the viewfinder bracket can still hit the left fork arm. It seems like the declination axis (both setting circle and rotational stops) is slightly out of position. But if I send this one back (sent one back already) I might get something even worse! Otherwise, the ETX and Autostar seem to be working correctly. I have not had the scope outside due to the rotten winter weather, but playing with it through house windows gives pretty good results. GOTO's are quite close after "syncing", considering that I am not doing an accurate two star alignment (centering the stars). Last night It was centering dead nuts on Saturn after doing a sync on Saturn and going back and forth between Saturn and the Pleiades. Thanks in advance for any info you can provide, Todd
Subject: ETX-90/EC, Problems Sent: Saturday, March 6, 1999 8:24:32 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Don Metzner) My story goes like many others, 3 weeks ago I purchased the ETX-90/EC and the Autostar, which probably should be called the" MANUALSTAR" or maybe the "AUTOSOMETIMESSTAR". This ETX lasted 2 times out, could not get it to track correctly then the RA motor would run but the OTA would not move. I took it off the mount and turned it over and could hear something rattling around in the base. This is perhaps after a total of 1 hours use. I took it back to the store and exchanged it.The second unit has more slop in both drive trains but the first nite out came close in the dec. mode but was off 1 to 2 in in the RA mode, had to slew manually to get it aligned.I believe that some of the problems I am having are related to my setup and leveling, I live in the hills and nothing is level. I don't know how much of my tracking problem (not hitting the target, not in the finder scope) are related to the 1. Gear slop (that might be solved by another ETX with a tighter gear train). 2. My set up procedure (I have only been working in the Alt/Az mode). 3. The Autostar. Last nite I aligned in the Alt/Az mode, went to find object (Polaris) it slewed around CCW (fast) got real close to Polaris, slowed down was about to stop when all of a sudden" There She Goes", into high gear and CCW away from Polaris, I slewed back asked it to find polaris again and the same thing happened, this time I let it go and it went until it hit the hard stop. This same nite when I first tried to align, It was headed toward Sirius got about 30 degree's east and stopped the error message said that I had a motor failure and check the batteries, I aligned again and it did the same thing, it was no where near the hard stops, the batteries were brand new. I aligned again and it worked. Any input would be appreciated, I see Mr. Bahneman commented on a March 2 that his screw fell out also. Has anyone sent there ETX back to Meade and had it personally tuned up? If so how did that work out? I don't think we should expect that this will hit the target for hours on end but it should come within the finders field most of the time. This site is a great asset to owners of this experimental product. Don Metzner in Loomis California (cloudy alot)
Subject: Autostar Rev 1.1 Sent: Friday, March 5, 1999 22:10:59 From: email@example.com (Rod Laird) Ken Baun (Meade Engineering V/P) has let me know it's OK to make public an official rev 1.1 release of the Autostar firmware due later this month with any luck. Should be posted on the Meade web site in about 2 weeks. Fixes much of the first generation reported bugs. More info when I'm allowed. Roderick K Laird Melbourne, Australia http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/rod_laird PGP at keyserver pgpkeys.mit.edu
Subject: Re: More frustration Sent: Friday, March 5, 1999 16:34:02 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Wyatt) There is definately a problem with the polar mode section of the software I think. Liem and I are also having problems with the software in polar mode. The posts below describe another common error which may be related to the issue. ---------------------------------------------------- Mike Wyatt http://www.pclink.com/mwyatt email@example.com "Save a star, kill a light" ---------------------------------------------------- -----Original Message----- From: Mike Wyatt (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Friday, March 05, 1999 6:12 PM Subject: Re: More frustration >Liem, >I too have had the exact error you mention with my scope and it only occurs >when the settings are set under SETUP\TELESCOPE\MOUNT are set to POLAR using >a wedge. The scope "should" work either with or without a wedge as long as >the settings there are appropriate. In my case I wanted to use the rear >mount on OTA to put my focal reducer on and with the scope in alt/az, the >scope couldn't get at near the zenith. So now I'm back in altaz mode. > I suspect that if you set your settings to ALT/AZ in that menu the >problem would disappear. This, I think, is a bug in the software for sure. >You are not alone in your frustration on this one, I too was getting wrong >below horizons while in polar mode. It seems to be related to the "goto" >functioning because if I set the screen to display the scopes position and >use the buttons to manually slew to the M42 coordinates while watching the >display, the scope ends up pointing in the direction of M42. Then, without >moving the scope, I chose M42 and "goto" and got the "Below Horizon/BEEP" >Perhaps the manual skips something, I don't know either. I would call >Meade, as I am so that any future "downloadable" fixes include this one.... >---------------------------------------------------- >Mike Wyatt >http://www.pclink.com/mwyatt >email@example.com >"Save a star, kill a light" >---------------------------------------------------- >-----Original Message----- >From: Liem Bahneman (firstname.lastname@example.org) >To: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) >Date: Thursday, March 04, 1999 11:27 PM >Subject: More frustration > > >>Meade ETX Mailing List - http://members.aol.com/etxastro >> >> >>I hope I don't sound like I'm using this list as a vent for my >>frustration, but maybe this problem is pilot error, not mechanical ;) >> >>I got my replacement scope from Natural Wonders (the one with the broken >>RA axis). I rigged up the Autostar and tried a mock polar-alignment. The >>unit kept erroring out after 8 seconds of slewing, which I later attribute >>to not calibrating the Autostar to the new scope/drive. *phew* >> >>So I put the scope outside and performed an easy polar align. It actually >>worked! The first star it aligned on was Sirius. It wasn't perfect, but it >>was definately in the viewfinder. The 2nd star it used was Alioth, and >>this, too, was in the viewfinder. >> >>So I go to Object mode and select Star -> Named -> Sirius. >> >>*BEEEP* "Object is below horizon" >> >>Hello? You just aligned with it! I then asked it to GOTO M42.. *BEEEP* >>"Object is below horizon". I lifted my head and could plainly see Orion >>high in the sky. >> >>I could be starting out wrong, with the telescope mounted on the tripod >>backwards, but then, how can it properly align with Sirius and Alioth? >> >>I'm hearing confusion on the list regarding documentation and how the ETX >>is supposed to be physically aligned. What is the right answer for polar >>alignment? >> >>thanks, >> >>- liem >> >>========================================================================== = >= >>Liem Bahneman email@example.com >>Senior Systems Administrator http://www.cobaltgroup.com/~roland >>The Cobalt Group (206) 269-6363 x300 >>Seattle, Washington F(206) 269-6350 >> >> >>______________________________________________________________________ >>To unsubscribe, write to firstname.lastname@example.org >>Start Your Own FREE Email List at http://www.listbot.com/
Subject: polar alignment Sent: Friday, March 5, 1999 5:42:56 From: email@example.com (Earl Hergert) Thanks for the great site. This post is regarding a post made by another fellow who had trouble in the polar alignment mode. I faxed mead the following : I purchased an ETX-90EC with the Autostar controller. The unit is mounted on the ETX field tripod. I prefer the polar alignment option and followed the instructions in the manual to polar align the telescope. At this point all is well. After completing the alignment I power up the auto star. Set the correct time (7:30pm) and date Feb 17 1999. The Site is that I have selected is New Brunswick NJ. The next set is to select Setup Align Easy. The Autostar selects Sirius as the first alignment star and slews to the correct position in the sky. I hit enter. The next star selected by Autostar is Dubhe (aU-Ma), Autostar again slews to the correct position in the sky I hit enter again. The message Alignment successful is displayed. This is where things get strange. Next I select Object Constellation- Orion Rigel I hit the goto button, to my dismay the Autostar displays object below horizon. I tried all of the stars in Orion with the same result. I find this puzzling because I can see Orion high in the sky. I rechecked the entire setup and confirmed that everything is correct. Next, I try Setup Align Two Star I select Dubhe again and the Autostar slews to the correct position. The second alignment star I choose is Rigel this time the Autostar slews over to Rigel which minutes before it had told me Rigel was below the horizon. Autostar then confirms alignment successful. I then select Object Deepsky Named Objects M42 Great Orion Nebula hit goto. The telescope attempts to slew around a complete 360 degrees but hits the RA stop. This also seems strange because as you know M42 is very near Rigel and should only require a minor adjustment to center. I have spent a couple of hours both indoors and outside repeating the same series of events. I have check and recheck the setup and polar alignment. The series of events described above is repeatable. I have not tried this in the Alt Az mode, that will be my next step. However I feel that it should work in the polar mode. I attempted to call tech support yesterday 2/16/99 at about 8:45 PST. However the person I spoke with did not seem in the mood for a discussion of this trouble. I imagine he is quite busy. So I am sending this fax in the hope that someone will read it when they have a chance and advise me if I am doing something fundamentally wrong. I am really looking forward to using this telescope from all that I have heard it is a great product and should sell very well. Please read over my fax and let me know what you think. I hope for an easy solution. Thank you for your time Best regard Earl Hergert
This was the fax I sent after re-faxing it to meade 2 times I finally got a response. One of the tech support
people called me and said they have never heard of this before and that I probably have the time set
incorrectly. He later recanted because the scope correctly polar aligned. He therefore only said I should
not do that and I should return it to mead if it continues or use it in the Alt-Az mode. All I can say is I hope
they put out a new version of the software, until then try Alt-Az. Again thanks for the great site Mike I wish meade was as helpful as you. Ps sorry for the long post. Best Regards Earl Hergert Applications Engineer Hamamatsu Corp Phone 908-231-0960 Fax 908-231-1539 firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: AutoStar motor calibration Sent: Thursday, March 4, 1999 20:12:57 From: email@example.com (Jim Herron) Having read mixed results on the success of AutoStar users I was really glad to see how easily software updates were designed into the product. Downloads from the Meade site (real soon now?), or simply drop by your local dealer and daisy chain a unit on display with newer software installed to mine for a quick update! I went ahead and bought mine, when I picked it up from my dealer (I don't think it's a stock item), I was told by the sales rep that "when it (assuming my unit) arrived one of the staff opened it and plugged it into the floor model.. and it's really cool". Reading the manual, I now see that the VERY FIRST time power is supplied to AutoStar motor calibration is performed. You can initiate a re-calibration via the submenus of the unit, good thing! Now I'm wondering if some of the negative posts I've read were in part due to that first ever initialization being matched to a floor model versus the owner's actual unit? Jim Herron
Subject: Meade Website update & ETX/90-EC & AutoStar manuals now online Sent: Thursday, March 4, 1999 19:58:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Herron) Just noticed the Meade web site now has the new models. I was concerned over the paper quality and binding of my AutoStar user manual, so I was very glad to see it on a web page. A few clipboard copies into Word and presto... reprinting with larger more readable font size. Saving to a Word file and I'm no longer concerned if a damp evening will ruin my manual. . But reprints won't be a problem, I'll laminate my new full size 8.5x11 pages for the field anyway AutoStar Software downloads - Not Yet! I noticed that they stated on one of the pages "soon to be available" though. I didn't see the page cited in the Autostar printed doc for "updated information on orbits and complete instructions on how to use this feature" re: statelite tracking, however I didn't look that closely either just expected it would be hyperlinked if it was avail. Hats off to my local (actually 35 miles away) Natural Wonders.. they upgrade/exchanged my Xmas season purchase ETX no cost to the EC model as soon as it arrived in their store.. no hassle). No loss to them though.. they've already sold me the tripod, carry bag, autostar, and 9.7. If they ever get the 8x25 right angle finder and autofocus I'll ring their register a few more times. When the time comes if the LX-50 wins the toss over the C-8 Deluxe.. they will be reaping the markup on that item too. I'm still hoping Meade will help themselves and original ETX users by at least offering a generic GEM autostar tripod for the old ETX market. If they are providing something called a DS-60 and DS-70 model (per AutoStar Manual) outfitted for AutoStar.. then it would seem to me the OTA removed from the old ETX base could be mounted onto a modified verison of these 2 units tripods. Almost seems a no-brainer helps sell AutoStars, interface cables, software... cha ching. Or maybe they are hoping to serve the old ETX users via an EC version of a cost effective larger aperature Mak???
Subject: Re: POLAR ALIGNMENT Sent: Thursday, March 4, 1999 5:19:05 From: email@example.com Thanks for your help. I'm with the other person who'd be willing to donate a couple of bucks so that you could have an ETX too. Or just maybe with all of the problems you see, maybe tou don't want one. Keep up the great work on your page. Paul B. Perlmutter
Subject: POLAR ALIGNMENT Sent: Wednesday, March 3, 1999 12:36:57 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (PAUL B. PERLMUTTER) I wanted to know if anyone out there is able to polar align the scope and use it successfully it the polar alignment mode. I don't have any problems using it in the alt-az mode. When i set up for polar mode, it doesn't even come close to the alingment stars either in the easy method or in 1 or 2 star modes. Paul B. Perlmutter(pleiades@erols.Com) P.S. When I called meade they said that they hadn't heard that complaint. I called the place I bought it from and they said that it didn't seem so the autostar but in the software built in.
Subject: Tracking Sent: Wednesday, March 3, 1999 12:28:30 From: email@example.com (Ed Brentnall) The tracking is based on the scope being level and pointed due north. Until I became very precise with these, I too had tracking problems. Also use Cyrus and a star from the northern sky. The wider the seperation the better it tracks. I tracked several items for an hour or more. If all else fails go polar. Ed Brentnall
Subject: Meade QC is horrible Sent: Tuesday, March 2, 1999 22:05:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Liem Bahneman) Well I have about had it with Meade's quality control on their ETX line (new and old). Yesterday, I purchased an AutoStar from the Nature Company. I brought it home, plugged it in....nothing. I tried for an hour to get it to do anything. In that time, it only powered up twice (seemingly normally), each time locking up with garbage on the screen. I thought it might be batteries, I checked them, they were fine, and the stock hand controller worked fine. So, I took it back and got a replacement that night, and it worked fine (and continues to be ok). That was just the first half of this saga. Tonight, I received my new wedgepod from JMI (what wonderful piece of craftsmanship!). I was testing the ETX+AutoStar in polar mode, when all of a sudden the ETX stopped moving along the RA axis. It was locked down tight, but it refused to move. Turning the telescope on its base yielded a disturbing clunking and grinding. I removed the ETX from the wegdepod and could hear the sound of a screw rattling around in the base. Great. I opened the base and found a small set-screw had unscrewed itself from one of the gears. I screwed it back in and found it would immediately proceed to unscrew itself when I slewed the RA axis. So, I called Natural Wonders where I purchased the telescope and they are going to replace it for me. So Meade, if you are listening, what the is up with your quality control? My original ETX had the well-known teflon pad problem, which had to be replaced. My new EC is dropping screws! I will not even get into the intolerable documentation that came with the AutoStar. Now I understand why Meade does not accept email. They would be inundated. Needless to say, I am extremely dissapointed. My only consolation is this winter is the rainiest in Seattle history, so I am not missing anything yet. - liem ============================================================================ Liem Bahneman email@example.com Senior Systems Administrator http://www.cobaltgroup.com/~roland The Cobalt Group (206) 269-6363 x300 Seattle, Washington F(206) 269-6350
Subject: Laptops Sent: Tuesday, March 2, 1999 19:09:25 From: Dean@cwdi.com (Dean) I am interested in getting a laptop computer for hooking up to my EC90. I have seen that a few people are making their own cables and hookups and would like to look into this a little more. My idea is to save alot of leg work as I am running back and forth as I find something and verifying it with my star map. I would also like to look into CCD photography in the near future. Before I go out and buy just any good laptop, I would like to here from some of the readers about their experiences and 'if they had anything to do over again'. What are any other options, extras,etc, one should look into to go along with the computer? One more comment, I had wrote in earlier about the unstable mount of the EC90 on the field tripod. Well, I fixed 99% of the problem by using a 5 1/2" diameter piece of 1/8" steel, with the 2 mounting holes drilled in, as a stabilizing plate. The top casting of the tripod was not completely flat so I 'milled' it perfectly flat. Thanks again for the great page! Dean. P.S. It is a shame that Mike does not have a new ETX for himself. I think it would be fair if all us USERS of this fine, informative site, would contribute $1 or 2. Then Mike could have some of his own first hand experiences to share with us. Will Mike even print this?
Mike here: Many thanks for the thought but I must decline the offer. As to a new scope, we'll see what the future has to offer...
Subject: Re: ETX90/EC - Video Astrophotography Sent: Monday, March 1, 1999 23:55:39 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (vern westervelt) Since I've been playing with my ETX90-EC, tonight was the first night I've actually had clear skies and actually started trying out the Autostar. (I've been playing with my camera and the moon up until now). I only tried in alt-az mode since I havn't received my ez-finder that is on order...don't want to play with Polaris until I can easily align it. I used Sirius and Alanatak on the orion belt for my 2 alignment stars. No matter how precise I aligned them, the scope would not track automatically back and forth after a successful alignment. I was kind of bummed about that. It did put it close, but did a terrible job at tracking in alt-az mode with anything greater than a 20mm objective. I'm going to write mead and see what they have to say about it. Can't wait to get the ez-finder and try it in equatorial mode.. Thanks again. Vern
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