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ETX CLASSIC FEEDBACK
Last updated: 26 April 2011
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This page is for comments and user feedback about ETX telescopes. ETX models discussed on this page include the ETX-60/70/80/90/105/125 (EC, AT, BB, Premier Edition). This page also includes comments and feedback of a general nature. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to the ETX-90RA, DSX, and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me for posting. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message per the Site Email Etiquette. Thanks. Remember, tips described on this site may invalidate the warranty on your telescope or accessories. Neither the submitter nor myself are responsible for any damage caused by using any contributed tips.

Subject:	ra drive 125
Sent:	Sunday, April 24, 2011 04:59:30
From:	bren (crembren@btinternet.com)
I have a 125 uhtc etx 12 months old that is running slow in ra.
Having checked your site it seems that your help is for older versions
that have a metal discs that clamp, [you tend to unscrew them and clean
the surface of each plate]
Mine are plastic and it does not look like the same construction as the
one shown on your tec tips
Can you help or update please ?
phil
Mike here: I assume you have an AutoStar. Have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES?
Subject:	Meade ETX 125 AT
Sent:	Friday, April 22, 2011 01:42:44
From:	Bob Gunnis (bobgunnis@ntlworld.com)
I  have a Meade ETX125AT and find that I have to keep tightening the
vertical lock on the scope and am obviously worried that I will over
tighten this and then it wont hold in position.  Have you any advice on
how to adjust this lock so that is can be tightened but not over
tightened.  I have had the scope since October 2010 so its not as if its
been over used and over tightened.
Many Thanks
Bob Gunnis
Mike here: You have to "keep tightening" the axis lock? Do you mean you lock it, and then it works loose, and you have to tighten it again? There are many DEC axis lock tips on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. Check there for possible solutions.

And:

I lock it and it stays locked but I have to tighten it quite hard in the
first place and obviously I am concerned that it will get to the stage
where it won't tighten anymore

Will have a look at the Telescope Techs Tips page as you suggested

Many thanks

Bob Gunnis
Mike here: Keep in mind that after you lock the axis, you can still move the OTA by hand. It is just a friction lock.
Subject:	ETX 60 BB
Sent:	Wednesday, April 20, 2011 10:05:14
From:	jrrj
I saw your post on Mike Weasner's site and I have gone thru some of the
same problems you have with disassembling the base of an ETX 60 BB. 
(They seem to be completely different from the other ETX 60's as far as
the base disassembly and the location of the azimuth and declination
drive systems.)

(http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/2010/etx60_repair.html )


One point you may have already figured out is to remove the circular
nut/plate on the bottom of the ETX with the four keystone shaped holes
is to first remove the little allen screw holding the azimuth tightening
lever to the bolt going thru the base to that special nut.

(Note:  a groove has been machined around the head of the bolt and the
little allen screw - mine uses a 1.5mm allen wrench - will have to be
turned out further than you would expect to clear that groove. Also, the
head on mine is a 1/2 inch hex head and you will find a 1/2 inch socket
very helpful to quickly unscrew and reinstall that bolt.  Much easier
than trying to use that lever/handle as a wrench!)

After removing that lever, the  bolt can be unscrewed without damaging
the fingers on the nut.   When reinstalling the bolt and the clutch
assembly, preload the tension on the clutch fingers and bearing assembly
so an additional 90 degree rotation of the bolt causes the large, round,
white plastic gear in the base, which is driven by the worm gear,
engages the plastic part around the rotational shaft of the base,
allowing it to drive the azimuth position.

(Lotsa' words for a simple adjustment!)

I really need your experience getting into that fork on which the switch
and control panel is located.

I've been able to get into the base ok and address some mechanical
problems associated with the azimuth drive motor and gears,  but I
haven't found anything except your info which addresses getting into
that fork.  When you refer to "five screws" are you talking about the
three screws which hold the large steel plate to the bottom of the base
and the two bolts which are used to affix the scope to the tripod, or
are you talking about some other five screws which are located inside
the base?

I thought to get to the inside of the fork on which the switch and jacks
(control panel) are located I would have to remove the OTA (optical tube
assembly) and remove screws inside the fork.

I may have just answered my own question!  There are 5 screws thru the
panel inside the right (control panel) fork.  Are these the 5 screws to
which you refer?  If so, then I am guessing it's possible to leave the
OTA in place, remove these screws and the declination lock knob and the
panel pulls off to the outside.  Is that correct?  If so, are there any
cautions to observe when removing the outer panel?  Anything which is
going to go "SPROING!!!", delicate wiring, or anything to get out of
synchronization?  I understand from other posts I have read that there
may be some tab on a bushing or something which may be worn or damaged.

It seems that most of my trouble now is coming from the declination
system, so I don't know exactly what to expect when I get inside the
housing of that mechanism, and I'm not sure how to safely get inside
that housing.

Regards,  Jon Jenkins  (Dallas, Texas area)

PS:  You are welcome to post any of this information you think may help
others, but please do not post my name or email address.  Despite my
best attempts to curtain spam and using current Norton anti-spam, still
some seems to get thru and someone has used my email address to spam
others.  My ISP and Norton seem to be dealing with it, but it has been a
real nuisance!

Subject:	Re: Using ETX as a Panoramic Mount?
Sent:	Tuesday, April 19, 2011 21:04:18
From:	D Haines (dhaines@yahoo.com)
This is great, much thanks!  It's doing exactly what I want!

Subject:	Autostar does not  recognize LNT
Sent:	Monday, April 18, 2011 18:22:52
From:	A & M Harris (fastang@twave.net)
I have a ETX-90 with 497 autostar version 43Ea it does not recognize the
LNT will not keep time nor date cannot even turn on the red dot. I
checked the wires and connecters all the way to the control board in the
base all checked out ok also tried a new battery. So I ordered a new LNT
from Meade but I still have the same problem. Any ideas or suggestions
would be appreciated.
 
Thanks for your time
Al Harris
Mike here: There are some LNT troubleshooting tips on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. If nothing there helps, you might try updating the AutoStar to 4.3Eg.
Subject:	Etx 80 motor problem
Sent:	Monday, April 18, 2011 15:36:05
From:	Simon How (simonandannehow@btinternet.com)
I have recently purchased a etx80 . The motors worked fine to begin
with. Now I find the drives work fine horizontally and when moving the
scope downwards but not upwards. I have replaced the batteries to no
effect and tried a range of tightness on the vertical lock , all without
success . The motor does make a sound but does not move the scope
upwards, any ideas?

Thanks in advance

Simon

Sent from my iPod
Mike here: You don't say whether the telescope moves at all vertically or whether it just doesn't move like you think it should. But have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR followed by a TRAIN DRIVES?

And:

No it does not move at all upwards but will move downwards. I have tried
resetting and the motor test runs but the scope only moves in the
horizontal.
Thanks for the speedy reply
Mike here: Do what I suggested before we do further troubleshooting. Let me know how it goes.

And an update:

All working Ok now. many thanks for your help.

Sent from my iPod

Subject:	"Weird"? ETX 60
Sent:	Sunday, April 17, 2011 11:16:57
From:	jrrj (jrrj@airmail.net)
Thanks for maintaining such an informative and helpful site!
 
I have no experience in astronomy, but purchased an ETX 60 "Backpack
Observatory" system used as a gift for a friend who was a Navy nurse who
had been stationed on a hospital ship in Vietnam.  She is interested in
looking at stars and such and thought the ETX 60 would be a suitable and
handy telescope.

Upon receiving the scope, I set about testing and verifying the
operation, and the nightmare began.

After getting it to accept alignment by just accepting the alignment it
thought it was doing, it honored "GO TO" requests by going to what
appeared arbitrary positions, including many where the scope pointed
about 30 degrees below the horizon at the ground.

After finding your site and an online manual for an ETX 90 "Backpack
Observatory" and doing reset, calibrate motors, and train drives, the
"rubber banding" has gone, but the scope still sounds as if it's
"skipping" when it moves and it doesn't "GO TO" where it should, and I
think it does not go to the alignment stars it claims to go to for
alignments.  Usually there is a star in the sky where it stops, I center
it, it goes to the next star and I center that and it announces
"Alignment successful" or something similar, but subsequent "GO TO's"
don't seem correct.

I've used "Easy Align" and "two star align", and I acknowledge my
ignorance, but using on line star charts, the best I can figure is the
scope is still not functioning correctly.

I suspect the problem may be grease on the encoders, and thought going
into the base and cleaning them would be an easy process, but this scope
is NOT like other ETX 60's described in other "fix-it" articles on your
site.   I finally found this article by Benito Loyola: 
http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/etx60-tuneup.html  which describes
the base of this scope correctly.

I have the tools and ability to follow his instructions and get into the
base of this scope, but...

1)  I would think it would be best to drill the holes for a size of
hardened steel pins have available BEFORE shearing the nut, and then
epoxy or super glue the bottom of the pins into the bottom of the base
before replacing the sheared nut.

and.....

2)  I have the option of returning the scope and having my money
refunded, but that will be a $20.00 loss, but is looking like a more
attractive option, considering that even if I DO get inside the base
without destroying something irreplaceable (Meade has been absolutely NO
help and no longer services this type of scope, nor do they even seem to
be able to tell me exactly what model it is.  (I determined it must be
an ETX60 from the info on the base plate and from pictures and
descriptions on the internet.) It has two silver color knobs which
operate a pivoting barlow and a mirror on the left side of the OTA under
the vertical eyepiece and the focus knob is  a silver color knurled
cylinder to the right of the vertical eyepiece, and the main tube is
silver colored instead of blue or black like most of the ETX 60's appear
to be.

So far, I'm into the system to the tune of $155 and I wouldn't have any
problem with that if it worked correctly.  It was advertised as working
and like new, and cosmetically it appears new,  and I presume it is in
good shape except for the drive/alignment issues, but I really don't
want to put a lot more money into it.  If it is going to be a "money
pit",  I'd just rather eat the return shipping and start over trying to
find something else for her.  The main attraction with the ETX was the
supposed simplicity for its' drive to find objects in a relatively
simple and straight forward manner.

I enjoy a challenge and love to fix things, but if I tear into this
scope I would not consider returning it.

Any advice, information, or cautions you could provide would be most
appreciated.

Am I even being sensible about giving this or any other ETX or Meade
product as a gift, or should I simply return it and forget the whole
thing?  (I know you can't answer that one for me, but if I can find a
"good" ETX  like this or something like a 90 or 125, would they really
provide nice "star tours" of the sky as touted, or  is this just some
marketing nonsense by Meade?)    Some of the reviews I read online
seemed great and what prompted me to buy the ETX 60 initially.   Any
scope I buy would have to be used to stay in my meager budget, but value
is more important that some fixed amount.  I'd rather pay a bit more and
get a scope which will do what it is supposed to do and be a decent
gift, than save a buck and get something that will only cause eternal
frustration.

I'm not sending this for posting, and I don't want my email address
posted as fodder for spam bots, but you are welcome to post parts of it
with the "personal" stuff redacted if you think it will help anyone
else.

If it would save you any time and trouble, I'd be happy to call you on
my nickel if you provide a phone number and a time which would be
convenient to you.
 
Regards,  Jon  Jenkins
Mike here: Before assuming anything serious wrong, lets start with some simple possible cures. Have you set your current location in the Site menu? Also, check that the MOUNT setting is correct (should be Alt/Az if you have that type of mount). If those don't cure the problem, you may need to redistribute the lubrication. That can be sometimes done by unlocking the axes and slowly moving the telescope in the horizontal and vertical directions by hand. Go back and forth several times. Go several times around in the horizontal.

And:

Wow!  Blazing fast response!

I've repeatedly done setups and initializations.  Have gone thru the
Meade online manual for the ETX90 which seems to be the same scope,
except larger.

Put a laser on the OTA to do the indoor drive training.

Now that I've removed the three screws from the base prior to messaging
you, I just went to re-install them and I've moved the base where the
holes for the three screws no longer line up.  I can't find them easily
and don't want to force anything, so I may be looking at removing the
azimuth locking handle  to remove the base enough to see what's
happening.   There is some black plastic part inside to which the
mounting bolts screw which also appears to be the part into which the
three screws go, which moves around inside to some degree, but not
enough re realign the three screws.  Hindsight being 20/20, I probably
should have reinstalled the long mounting bolts before removing the
three screws.

Regards,  Jon J.

And:

Oh, forgot...I leveled the base and the scope OTA meticulously and used
a good compass with correct, current declination to point it to true
north.

The location was set using the zip code.

And this:

Just found out, the loose plate inside that I thought was black plastic
is metal.  Sounds like tin when I tap it with a dental tool.
Mike here: Some points: DRIVE TRAINING should be done on a distant object (to avoid parallax error). Yeah, in hindsight, it would probably have been a good idea to read my article "Disassembly Procedure" on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page first.

And:

I think that is one of the articles I read, but I don't think it applies
to this base which is apparently not a "normal" ETX 60 base.

If that's the http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips.html ,  I've read so
many articles there over the past week and a half or so that my head is
still spinning.   The article I referenced is the only one I've found
which seems to refer to the base I have.

The battery box it on top of the base, and it has the 3-pronged metal
"clamp" under a round snap in cover on the bottom of the base as
described in the Loyola article.
Mike here: My article on "Disassembly Procedure" is not specific to any model telescope (or actually, anything at all). It is just general advice to be considered before disassembling anything, including a telescope. And yes, there is not a lot of info on disassembling the ETX-60BB model.

And:

Just confirmed I read the "Disassembly" article.  It is excellent, and
one of the first I read, but did not explain how to get into the base of
this scope, so I continued with other articles which seemed to apply to
this scope, but as I went further into them, it became clear that this
scope and base was not what they were describing, even though the
articles were referring to ETX 60's, 70s' etc.

It was just today I found the Loyola article which seems to match this
base.

Shearing a plastic nut or doing any sort of damage to the scope would
not let me feel honest in returning it.
Mike here: You haven't said how far off the GOTOs are. Could they be 15 degrees? If so, that sounds like a time error, such as occurs when the Daylight Saving setting is incorrect for your location. Also, try using a nearby city name instead of Zipcode (there are apparently some errors in the Zipcode database).

And:

Nothing that small......wrong area of the sky sort of thing.  Best I can
figure is I'm not even close to getting the initial alignment right.  I
don't think it's going where it thinks it is from the home position.
Mike here: HOME position for the ETX-60/70/80 is OTA level with the OTA pointed to True North. However, if the control panel is on the base and not a fork arm, there are hard stops that must be considered. So the HOME position is with the control panel on the West side of the tripod, level the OTA, and rotate Counterclockwise (looking down on the telescope from above) until you reach the hard stop, then back about 120 degrees to True North.

And more:

I had confirmed the daylight savings time setting was correct, there are
no hard stops and the only thing which might be considered a "control
panel" is the "handbox" of the 494 controller.

I have been meticulous about leveling the base AND the OTA and carefully
aligning to true north.

I have been learning and fight this thing for over a week.  The only
thing I haven't done and don't know how to do, but which may be in the
online manual for the ETX which is most similar to mine, would be to
enter the GPS lat/long.  The nearest city of which this town is a
suburb, is Dallas Texas which is MUCH larger that the local zip code.
Since this is a very populous area, the zip codes are fairly small.

The arm is a double fork and appears to be identical to all the other
ETX 60's I've seen online.

The only obvious differences in this scope and the "normal" ETX 60's are
the silver color of the OTA, the number of knobs,  and I think the
attachment of the OTA to the "mount cup" which appears to be four screws
with rounded allen heads which screw in from the back of the "cup"
structure.  That "cup" structure also houses the two eyepiece mounts,
the flipping mirror, and the sliding barlow lens.
Mike here: The "control panel" is where the AutoStar connects on the side of the base or fork arm. But since you say there are no hard stops, that usually means the control panel is on the fork arm. You can EDIT a city location, once you have selected a nearby city. However, unless your location is more than about 60 miles from the city, I wouldn't worry about the difference at this point. Just select the city (to avoid the Zipcode error). Of course, do check the Lat/Long to confirm that is not where the problem is.

And:

Thanks, Mike but I think I've already messed up.

We're only about 7-10 miles from the center of downtown Dallas, so that
should not be an issue.

Now that I took out the three screws and rotated the base a bit, I think
I'm going to have to go ahead and plan on the procedure to drill holes,
shear the white nut, and just take my chances on what I find inside.

I sincerely appreciate all your personal help, but I think this is
beyond saving without going on further.  I'll try to
remember....(getttin' old and short term memory is practically
non-existent)....to let you know how it goes and if I have a sack of
"scope parts" for sale, I'll let you know!   Grin!

Thanks again for all your help and the great website!

Sorry I've usurped so much of your time.

All the best,  Jon J.
Mike here: Do keep me posted. Of course, feel free to document (with text and photos) what you do and send it to me. I'm sure others would appreciate the info.

And:

Ouch!  Your last message brings up a sore spot!

This Dell E1705 Inspiron laptop which is my only computer has been
nothing but trouble since I bought it a little over 5 years ago.  I
bought more warranty, so it's still under warranty until the end of this
year.  It's on it's fourth display, and 3rd motherboard and after
replacing the motherboard and some other stuff a couple of months back,
I just found out that it won't recognize the SD card from my camera
anymore, We bought two of these at the same time, and the other one has
already had the hard drive and display replaced.  Every time I call Dell
customer service I can count on spending about 2-3 hours, quite a bit of
that  is on hold.  I need to get that fixed so I can send photos again,
but might be able to do it on the other computer that I don't normally
use.

Before I start trying the "shear the white 'nut' " procedure, do you
know of any updated procedure to avoid that or else ensure a successful
operation?

The Loyola post didn't mention it, but this one has four keystone shaped
"posts" or tabs which engage four keystone shaped cutouts in the
threaded washer/nut into which the bolt to which the locking handle
attaches threads to adjust the azimuth tension.

Do you concur with drilling two holes which would fit hardened pins
first, and then attempting to shear the "nut", or is there danger of
drilling the holes first causing the "nut" flange to break instead of
shearing the nut as it should.

Maybe drilling two tiny pilot holes first which would allow alignment
with two very small pins would maintain the alignment during reassembly,
and then using those holes to drill holes for larger pins later.  I
suppose it's possible that two small pins is all that is necessary.

Your thoughts?
Mike here: I don't have any direct experience with the ETX-60 models. Some of it may be similar to the older ETX-70 models. So, some of those tips might be helpful.

And:

Message received,  Thanks!  

And an update:

Just a quick note and off to get some sleep.

Got into the base ok.  Didn't have to shear the white "nut/flange".

Found a note on another website replying to a reference to shearing the
nut, and someone posted "Mine just unscrewed".

I tried it and it unscrewed easily.  It had what appeared to be adhesive
of some sort on it, but I guess the silicone grease that was everywhere
had softened it or???

Cleaned it up, lubed the gears with Pro Gold, reassembled it (several
times....had to tweak some things), took it outside (cloudy/smoky, heavy
wind),  reset, calibrate motors, trained drives, set "home", did easy
align. can't remember the first star, bur the scope slewed up to ninety
degrees and a little past it.  I just entered as if the star were
centered and it took off for another star, and I entered as if centered
on that one, got "alignment successful" or something, told it to go to
the moon and it slewed to the general area, but didn't get the moon in
the view of a 25mm eyepiece.  I moved it to center the moon and
synchronized the moon.  told it to go to Regulus, it slewed where it
thought Regulus was, but solid cloud cover there,  told it to go back to
moon, and it piddled around at slow speeds and finally settled down
nowhere near the moon.  Went back to moon manually and let it track the
moon in "lunar" tracking and it did fairly well, I guess. Told it to
"Park Scope" and it  went to zero/North ok, but angled the tube down
about 10 degrees.

Skies cleared a bit and the moon was clear fairly often with the clouds
moving fast.  Centered the moon and let it track awhile, all looked well
so I tried a 12mm eyepiece.  I expected the focus to be out and it was,
but the alignment to the moon was also out.  By the time I was able to
get the focus anywhere near right, skies had socked in with clouds. 
Moon peeked in an out at times, but before I could get an eye on the
scope or move it to find the moon, it was covered again to the point
that even a glow could not be seen.

I guess the next order of business is to attack the declination problem.
I think that involves removing the OTA and I THINK that is a three
screw deal and taking the caps off of one or both forks and maybe
bending the "cup and arms" for the OTA to clear the forks, or possibly
just unscrewing the panel screws will be enough.  I'll have to try to
find something to guide me on your site.  I think the arms construction
may be more common than the base.

BTW, the base only had the motor and gears for the azimuth drive in the
base.  The motor pivoted between two cast arms and had a flat spring to
force it to mesh with the large, flat worm gear in the bottom of the
base.

The declination motor is in one of the forks.

I feel comfortable mucking about in the base and azimuth drive now so if
I can get into the azimuth machinery without making things worse, maybe
I can fix what's wrong there.

Yawn!   I'll update you when I know more.

Regards,  Jon J.
Mike here: One point: DO NOT SYNC on moving objects (ie, moon, planets, etc). Only SYNC on fixed objects (stars, DSOs). SYNCing on moving objects will result in alignment errors.

And:

Thanks for that info!

I figured that since it tracked the moon rather well that it knew
internally where it was and synching to the moon would confirm the
position of the moon something like another bit of alignment data.

Maybe I was doing more harm than good.

I still can't figure out why sometimes when it's supposed to be slewing
to something that should be some distance away, it seems to wander
around, back and forth and up and down at a slow speed, even after the
handbox indicates it's no longer slewing and the object to which it was
slewing is shown on the display and "slewing" is no longer displayed.

If I can find and center a known star, does synching with it enhance
alignment accuracy?

Regards,  Jon J.
Mike here: Ephemeral objects have less precise (and older) orbital data than fixed objects in the AutoStar. That's why SYNCing on moving objects is not recommended. It will induce errors in the alignment. Doing a SYNC on a star or DSO will improve the alignment in that portion of the sky. As to slewing, always wait for the beep before doing any slewing to center the alignment stars.
Subject:	Failed ETX
Sent:	Sunday, April 17, 2011 08:26:05
From:	Derek (skyman@globalnet.co.uk)
My 2 year old ETX 125 has been resting in the observatory since Feb when
it worked just fine. Today I fired it up with new batteries and it made
one movement in Finding Level where it stopped, and there it stayed. I
tried repeatedly with the same results. Trying it on manual, it moves in
alt. but not in az.  I tried a reset but results were the same.
I removed the base and found two washers (4mm?) loose inside but nothing
looked out of place, I checked that the plugs were all on solid..   I
have had the base off before, just for a look, but the washers were not
apparent then.
I don't know where to go from here, any help would be most appreciated.
Derek
Mike here: I assume you have the PE model since you said it tried to level. First, have you done a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES? If not, do those. If that doesn't cure the problem, check that the OTA rotates freely and smoothly in the horizontal direction. Do this by unlocking the axis, and slowly move the telescope horizontally by hand, hard stop to hard stop. It should go almost twice around.

And:

Thanks for your prompt reply.  I wriggled the 2 pin socket which
connects the AZ motor to the board and it started to run, then it
didn't, then it did, so this seems to be the cause.  I will now do the
training as you suggest.   It could be that I will have to do away with
the socket and solder the motor wires directly onto the pins to ensure a
positive connection. The OTA does turn freely.  I will keep you
informed.
Mike here: Yeah, a bad (or dirty) connection can cause a problem!

And an update:

Bad news, I checked the ETX out several times during the day, all ok,
then when I carried it out last night the fault was back, no movement at
all in azimuth.  This morning I opened it up again, checked the Az 
socket but nothing I did caused the motor to run, wriggling, reset,
Calibrate Motors, nothing in AZ.
I checked the resistance across the  socket on the motor wires at 28.7
ohms, reluctant to check if there is any output across the pins on the
board as I not sure what to find, I do have electronic experience and a
'scope.
Any suggestions where to go from here?

Derek
Gloucester UK
Mike here: Hate those intermittent problems. But it does sound like a bad connection somewhere, either one end of some wire or a broken wire someplace along the wire. Since you are experienced, you might try running a separate jumper wire to see if that solves the problem.
Subject:	Re: Using ETX as a Panoramic Mount?
Sent:	Saturday, April 16, 2011 19:18:29
From:	D Haines (dhaines@yahoo.com)
Thanks!

Any pause under 30 seconds would be great, ideally it would be just
maybe 2-5 seconds.  My plan is to attach a Flip camera to the scope (I
forget the proper term, but have actual lens of the camera be the scope,
not just pointing the camera lens at the telescope's lens). This way I
only have to worry about batteries and memory size, no wires. Weight
would be a concern since a lot of the places I'd be interested in, I
would have to hike too.

I would then separate out the frames and use the frames from when the
scope was paused, so that there is no motion blur.  From those frames I
would then build the panorama.   Even though the flip camera is low
resolution, the narrow field of view at high magnification should make
giga-pixel resolution of landscapes when mosaicked together.

If I cant get the Flip camera to work they way I like, I also have a
ToUcam with the 1-1/4" adapter.  I'll pretty much do the same thing
except I'll need a laptop attached.

My other option is to just take pictures manually (or in sets of 10
"continuous" shots).  If I end up using a camera, it would probably just
be mounted on top of the Etx.  But if it comes to that I might be better
of just rotating the camera myself.
Mike here: I have taken panoramic photos using a digital camera mounted on a photographic tripod. I then stitched them together to make the panorama using DoubleTake on my Mac. There are also some panorama apps for iOS. Mounting the camera piggyback on the telescope will also work.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
OK, here is the patch kit that will provide controlled pauses during a
Landmark Survey.

Subject:	Re: Using ETX as a Panoramic Mount?
Sent:	Thursday, April 14, 2011 19:28:18
From:	D Haines (dhaines@yahoo.com)
Thank you!

I've been messing around with this for a couple of days, now.  I can't
get the Utilities > Landmark Survey to work the way I'd like.  The
manuals say it will slew to the first landmark, pause for a short time
and then move on to the next one.  The problem is, is the pause is
several minutes.  I can't figure out how to shorten the pause.  Ideally,
I'd like to make a controlled zig-zag across the horizon and sky.  I
could do this manually, but have it automated would sure be nice  Any
suggestions?

The autostar is version 33ef.  
Mike here: Perhaps our resident AutoStar expert, Dick Seymour, has an idea.

And:

From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I think i patched that once...

I'm going to be busy for the next fewdays, but i'll try to look into it.
If i can't make it quickly adjustable, what would be an acceptable pause?

Also, are you willing to have a PC attached to the scope?
If so, then the possibilities are nearly endless...
(how are you planning to sync the camera shutter to the motion/pauses anyway?)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: Meade ETX 90 PE problems
Sent:	Tuesday, April 12, 2011 20:52:55
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
You can overcome the lag in the DEC/Alt by increasing the
Setup/Telescope/Alt Percent
setting.
That tells the Autostar how *much* of the measured backlash to apply as
a "quick spin" to overcome the lag.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: For more on percentages, there are three articles on Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page.

And:

From:	Max Byerly (davenport-tennis@hotmail.com)
I had my friend look at the scope yesterday and we found that the motor
has flop in it. With the clutch locked, you can still move the tube up
and down a bit freely. How can I get into where the motor is and adjust
that flop???

Thanks

Max
Mike here: If you push the tube up/down by hand, some movement is normal. The lock is just a friction style lock (like car brakes). So forcing movement by hand is to be expected.

And:

Ok, but when it slews to something (Saturn, M3, etc.) the RA moves and
then you hear the Dec motor moving, but it takes half a second or more
for that tube to start moving. Its not instantly when the scope moves
that the tube moves. Its like it takes a half a motor turn before it
catches and starts going.


Max
Mike here: If the CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES (don't forget to TRAIN on both axes) did not clear up the backlash, then follow Dick Seymour's advice or see the articles on "percentages" on the AutoStar Info page. BUT be certain to do the CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES and test the results BEFORE changing the percentages.
Subject:	Using ETX as a Panoramic Mount?
Sent:	Monday, April 11, 2011 20:32:54
From:	D Haines (dhaines@yahoo.com)
Hi Mike!  I'm glad to see your site is doing so well (and your
observatory too!).  I was a newbie with the ETX and you helped me out a
bunch.  Over the years, for various reason I've fallen out of the
astronomy hobby but have kept my ETX and still take it out occasionally.

One of the things of gotten into recently is panoramic photos.  Some of
the most amazing photos are taken with robotic camera mounts
(popularized by gigapansystems.com).  I can't afford another toy so I
figured I would just be doing panoramas by hand.  But then I ran across
this guy http://www.autopano.net/forum/p72194-2010-11-06-11-38-53#p72194
who turned an Orion mount into a robotic camera mount.  (The photo on
his blog doesn't do justice, see the microsoft photosynth site for the
full glory and be sure to zoom in! 
http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=c3ea4696-f18f-4385-8533-5ff04ad3dec3 )

I haven't found anything that let's you do something similar with an ETX
mount. I'm sure it could be done, I'm just not sure how write the code
to do it myself.  I figured if anyone knew of someone who did it, it
would be you.
Mike here: Don't know about the automation, but you can use an AutoStar in Landmark mode to move by specific angles to match your camera field-of-view.
Subject:	Meade ETX Parts
Sent:	Monday, April 11, 2011 13:06:38
From:	John Lovda (jlovda@yahoo.com)
I have an ETX-90 with an 886 tripod I bought off ebay.  One of the upper
tripod leg beams is bent.  Meade doesn't sell that part.  On a more
trivial note they also do not sell the silver- dollar sized round
decorative adhesive disks for the outside of the fork arms.  An I stuck
just searching ebay?  If one can generalize, what types of spare parts
does Meade sell and is there an age cutoff?
Mike here: Generally, Meade does not sell replacement parts for any of its telescopes to end users. You might try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page); they have many parts available.
Subject:	Re: Meade ETX 90 PE problems
Sent:	Sunday, April 10, 2011 19:49:55
From:	Max Byerly (davenport-tennis@hotmail.com)
I tried the Meade ETX 90PE this evening and did the calibrate sensors on
the Autostar . It did the automatic alignment and slewed to Polaris,
which Polaris was so far off. I adjusted the scope accordingly and
centered Polaris and clicked ENTER as instructed. The scope went back to
the home screen and then I performed the two star alignment. I selected
Arcturus and Procyon as the two alignment stars. I centered both and
clicked enter. I then selected Saturn in the controller and the scope
put Saturn in the bottom of the field of view. I centered and synced on
Saturn and then punched in and M3. M3 was also slightly towards the
bottom of the field of view. I went back over to Saturn and Saturn was
just off center of the eyepiece. Do you think I should still train the
drive if the go to accuracy is this good? Still calibrate the motors? I
did not have enough clear to really test this out, but it seemed to
help.

It didn't fix the problem with trying to center the objects with the
controller on a low setting. If you try a 3 or 4 which is 4 or 8 times
you can hear the motor trying to move the scope but it's not moving when
clicking the button down. This is mostly on the DEC axis, not so much
with the RA.

Thanks
Max
Mike here: Yes, you need to do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. Until you do those, the AutoStar is not precisely adjusted for your telescope. Also, you should NOT do a SYNC on planets or the moon (or any moving object). SYNC only on fixed objects (stars, DSOs).

And:

Thanks
Max

Subject:	ETX-80 focus knob replacement query
Sent:	Sunday, April 10, 2011 18:03:57
From:	Martin Thomas (martin@dreamsphere.co.uk)
Thanks for continuing to provide such a great resource here and also
with your Cassopia observing reports.

Can you or any of your contributors advise whether the new style ETX-80
(as supplied in the backpack package) focus knob can be removed so as to
replace it with a flexi-mate type cable adjuster please? If so, how?

Thanks in advance.

Martin
Cumbria
UK
Mike here: I'm not certain whether the ETX-80 focus knob has the small setscrew or not. But if the knob is not removable, the tip of using a small diameter rubber tube as a "flexible focus" shaft can still work. Just use a diameter tube that will fit over the knob.

And:

Thanks for the super fast response. The tubing is a great idea!

Best wishes

Martin
Cumbria
UK

Subject:	Meade ETX Problems
Sent:	Sunday, April 10, 2011 10:25:55
From:	Dayle Woodhams (daylewoodhams@gmail.com)
I write to ask your advice on a problem with my Meade ETX-125EC, which I
bought second hand some years ago. The scope has not been used in some
time and my father and I decided to get it set up connected to a laptop
as a demonstration for our local astronomy club annual star party. My
father connected up the 12v portable power pack only to find that it
didn't power up. He then inserted a number of AA batteries and it then
powered up normally, we assumed that the 12V power pack needed charging
as it hadn't been used for a while. We then plugged the scope into in a
USB to serial converter and then in to the laptop as we had done in the
past, in order to set it up with some astronomy software. We then
realised that the driver was missing for the USB to serial converter, so
we were installing that when I smelt electrical burning. I realised the
scope was on so, quickly flicked that off and unplugged the USB - serial
converter to discover that the serial end of the converter had melted,
and had even charred on the inside to the extent that it is impossible
to tell if there was an existing fault. The laptop USB ports seem to be
working fine. It seems to me that a laptop USB port shouldn't have
enough current to melt and char the USB - serial adapter and combined
with the fact that the external power pack not powering the scope up
makes me very nervous that there may be something very wrong with my
scope.

To test out the scope as best I could I then unplugged the RJ11 like
cable from the auxiliary port and plugged in the autostar and turned the
scope on. The autostar seems to be working normally and can still drive
the scope motors. So we are unsure whether this was a fault with the USB
- serial adapter or with the scope itself. As you seem to have a lot of
experience with this type of scope I was wondering if this is a problem
that you had come across before? Do you have any suggestions as to how I
could electrically test the functioning of the scope? I'm worried about
buying a new USB - serial adapter without testing the scope first in
case the problem repeats, but am also unsure of how to gain access to
the control board without damaging the scope. We would be very grateful
for any advice you could offer.

Yours Faithfully,

Mr Dayle Woodhams
Mike here: You say you unplugged the serial cable from the AUX jack on the telescope base. That was the problem. That is a powered port for auxliary devices. You should have plugged the serial cable into the RJ11 jack on the AutoStar #497. However, I suggest you replace the USB-serial adapter since it may have been damaged before you connect it to the AutoStar. Otherwise, it is possible you might damage the AutoStar.

And:

Thank you very much for your fast reply. Yes, I remember now that the
serial cable connected into the autostar before. Sadly, I let my father
set the scope up this time and I was just installing the drivers on the
laptop for him, so he wouldn't have known. I should have checked though.
Well, I will get a new USB to serial adapter and hopefully can get it
working before our star party. As the scope still appears to work using
the autostar I don't foresee this being a problem. Thank you so much for
your time.

All the Best,
Dayle Woodhams
Mike here: Not all USB-serial adapters work reliably with the AutoStar. See the article "AutoStar and USB" on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. I recommend Keyspan adapters.
Subject:	Meade ETX 90 PE problems
Sent:	Friday, April 8, 2011 08:20:12
From:	Max Byerly (davenport-tennis@hotmail.com)
Thanks for your feedback on whether the ETX60 would work with the 497
controller. Works fine.

But I bought a ETX 90 PE the other day with the LNT module and noticed
there is some major goto accuracy problems with it. I was thinking maybe
you can help me. First, when you do the alignment, the stars are out,
which is normal and after the alignment, your ready for observing. First
thing I notice is when I click on of the bottom to move an object into
the center, I click the button and I can hear the motor going but the
scope is not doing anything and then all of sudden it catches and goes
to far. Its not like with the ETX 60 and my LX90 where you click the
button and it moves slowly but at a steady pace. Sometimes when you let
go of that button, it'll keep going for a second or two. Training the
drive doesn't help.

Now on to the GOTO part. After alignment, I went down to M42 and
centered and synced it and went over to Sirius and it was a little off.
I then go back to the Orion Nebula, and its not even in the field of a
40mm eyepiece. If done a test on Alpheratz and M31 to test it out on a
different area and the same thing, I slew down to Alpheratz and go back
to M31 after syncing on Alpheratz and M31 is not in the field.

What do you think the problem is? Any recommendations? Any settings I
should change?

Thanks,
Max
Mike here: Sounds like you need to do some AutoStar things. Do a CALIBRATE SENSORS (you'll need to be able to see Polaris). That sets up the North pointing for your location (adjusting for Magnetic Variation). Then do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. The CALIBRATE MOTOR adjusts the encoder readings for the current battery output. TRAIN DRIVES calibrates the movement of the OTA to your gears.

And:

Will this clear those problems??

Sent from my iPhone
Mike here: They cure many problems that users have reported when they have NOT done those items. So, unless you do them, we won't know whether something more serious needs to be done. Lets start with the simple things first.
Subject:	RE: ETX-90EC
Sent:	Thursday, April 7, 2011 11:00:26
From:	Don Whetstine (don@jlmadisonco.com)
I have a couple of questions with regards to the ETX-90EC

First ; auxiliary power - I would like the ability to use a 110ac to dc
power source for the scope (home use) as well as a plug in adapter from
car use (cigarette lighter) What are my options ?

Second ; for the camera mount for the scope ... Are the mounts "model"
specific ? ie Cannon, Nikon .... Are there "better / best mounts for
camera to scope ??

thanx for your time

don w  
Mike here: 1. There are many options for AC adapters. There is Meade's Universal Adapter as well as one from ScopeStuff (link on the Astronomy Links page). There are also cigarette lighter adapter cables. For more info, see the "Power Supplies" section on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page. 2. Piggyback mounts are model specific since they are sized to the diameter of the OTA. Adapters that mount at the rear port are specific to the ETX; adapters not designed for the ETX won't work. Eyepiece Projection and Prime Focus adapters that mount on the 1.25" eyepiece hole are not telescope specific. For more on adapters, see the Accessory Reviews: Astrophotography page. For more on astrophotography, see the Helpful Information: Astrophotography page.

And:

thank you 

d.w.

Subject:	Questions About Meade 70-ETX Purchased Second Hand - Autostar Question
Sent:	Wednesday, April 6, 2011 14:55:40
From:	Ray Pashoukos (rayshooks@gmail.com)
I have recently purchased a second hand Meade ETX-70 telescope for $60
and have been playing with it for several days now.  The basics of the
scope (viewing, horiz/vertical movement), seem to be solid.  Although
the horizontal movement is problematic some times.

My questions:

1.  Autostar (35-4700-08 serial on back of remote controller):  First
of all the text that should be scrolling with instructions/
information, is all garbled up.  For example, the word "start" will
look like "sssssssssttttttttttttttaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrttttttt."

2.  When reading the manual, it states that when you turn it on, it
should go through a set up of date/time/ and location.  The date and
times functions come up, but the country, state, nearest city does not.
Would you know why?

3.  Is there a reset or reboot I can do to fix these problems?  I would
love to hook it up to my Pc, but do not have the problem cables.

4.  Also with regards to the motor issue, when I attempt to use
Autostar to find an object, the horizontal movement sometimes gets
stuck and I have to "push" it along.  How much of a problem is this?

In summary:

1.  Does this telescope look like something that can be fixed or should
I return to second hand shop, save money up and purchase a new one?

I guess that is where I am at today.  I have until Saturday (4/9/11) to
return the unit.  I have been very excited about getting into astronomy
for many years now, but have not taken any steps towards that until
now.  I  also have a 2 1/2 year old son who I want to introduce the
stars too.

I have attached some pics for review.

I appreciate your time in answering my questions.  I look forward to
your response.

Thanks again!

Sincerely, 

Ray Pashoukos

photo photo

Mike here: 1. See the item "Q. My AutoStar scrolls text too fast to read. How do I change it?" on the ETX FAQ page. 2. Once the AutoStar has been initialized out of the box, the location has been set. The previous owner did that. You can change the location under the Site menu item. 3. There is a RESET menu item but you don't need it to fix #1 and #2. 4. Do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES on the AutoStar and see if that corrects the sticking problem. If not, let me know as there is something else that may help.

And:

You get the award for the fastest email response to a general question
ever!  Thank you.  I will try those out and let you know the results.

- Ray

Subject:	ETX-70AT
Sent:	Wednesday, April 6, 2011 10:37:05
From:	Don Whetstine (don@jlmadisonco.com)
good morning Mike  a little help ..
 
it should be a crime that I have had this scope put away and have not
used it for quite some time .. its still clean and fresh and thank
goodness I had the wherewithal to remove the batteries from the base
before storage

I am extremely pleased that recently my son has queried the location of
the scope and last night I broke it out inserted new batteries and began
to re-introduce myself to the set up and manual. Tonight, if its clear,
we should have some quality time together

My question  somewhere I remember reading that upon set up the base is
rotated counterclockwise until a "stop" is felt ; then you proceed to
rotate clockwise -1- full turn with the tube ending pointing to the
North  I fairly confident of this, however I cannot seem to find that
info in the manual ???
 
Could you offer any assisitance ??
thanx
don w  
Mike here: The ETX-70AT does not have the hard stops that are in the ETX-90/105/125 models. So, just set up the tripod, level the OTA, and point the OTA to True North.

And:

thank you ...
d.w.

Subject:	Finderscope Help
Sent:	Tuesday, April 5, 2011 11:37:51
From:	William B Martin (Will.Martin@nau.edu)
I have just gotten an Meade ETX 90ec telescope from a family member. 
But ther is no finderscope and apparently they don't make them for this
telescope anymore.  I can't find one anywhere.  Can you help me out on
where to get one or what to do please?  Thanks.
 
Will Martin
Mike here: Try Telescope Warehouse (link on the Astronomy Links page). Alternatively, you can mount other types of finderscopes; see the Accesory Reviews: Finderscopes page as well as the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	Re: Meade ETX 90ra threaded lens cap is stuck tight
Sent:	Monday, April 4, 2011 13:58:31
From:	Michael Rollo (mcrollo@hotmail.com)
Finally!!!

Got someone who was at your site and seen the trouble I was in.

He came up with the answer, and I am so grateful, I wonder if it should
be posted on your site.

A gentleman named Forrest Lundberg, sent me a email that explained what
I needed to do, and I have to say not only did it work, the cover came
off with no effort at all.

I had tried everything for over a week and , I can't tell you the
satisfaction I got when it started to open,,I was yelling...I won, I
won!!!

my wife was laughing.

I am taking the scope out tonight , going to do a star test as you
suggested, I found one advantage to the sliding baffle which I did
manage to move back to its proper spot,

I can use that a a reference point. to at least get close to where it
the corrector was originally..we'll see.

Thank you also for all your help. having a great site, and continuing
with such a helpful reference point for help for meade etx owners and
for most all telescope owners in general.

Best Regards,

and Thank you,

Michael Rollo

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