Last updated: 31 August 2007
This page is for user comments and information specific to the ETX PE (Premier Edition). Feedback on the specific PE technologies (Automatic Alignment + SmartFinder, Level North Technology) will be covered here. Feedback on the Autostar Suite AE (Astronomer Edition) will be posted on the regular Autostar Suite feedback page. Items that are applicable to all ETX models (EC, AT, PE) will continue to be posted on the other appropriate feedback pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Subject: Electric Focuser Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 20:08:52 From: mail.westnet.com.au (email@example.com) I read your article on the 1247 Meade Electric focuser, it doesn't sound like you would recommend it. Is there another focuser you would recommend for the ETX-125PE? Thanks, JacquesMike here: The #1247 seems to be discontinued and some users had problems attaching it to the PE models. I haven't checked if JMI has a PE model compatible focuser.
Subject: Date/time retention on EXT90PE Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 07:22:43 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I am very sorry to trouble you,but perhaps because of being a beginner, I cannot fathom out why I have to set the Date and Time every time I switch on my new ETX90PE. I assumed that once I had set this data,it would display the correct date/time each time I switched the scope (Autostar) on.It seems to have retained my site co-ordinates,so I am wondering what I have done wrong. Again..I'm sorry to trouble you for such a trifling little problem. Thanks -- Best Regards, Peter HamblinMike here: It sounds like the AutoStar is not seeing the LNT. Does the Auto Align mode appear in the AutoStar menu? If not, you might want to read through the troubleshooting the LNT articles on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
Many thanks for your reply..much appreciated.Auto align does appear in the menu,so I have now gone through all of the trouble shooting tips on the site.It would appear that the battery on the LNT may have been the culprit,as a change has eliminated the problem.How the battery on a brand new scope can be dead is another matter,I suppose!!! Many thanks again...btw..your site is absolutely fantastic.
Subject: LNT Smartfinder post 81607 Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 10:30:09 From: Austin, Ken (KAustin@sjm.com) FYI I broke mine off once "very easy to do" I contacted Meade and the said I could buy one for a couple of bucks. I ended up buying three of them since I am sure I will break it again one day. Thanks for the great site! Best Regards, Kenneth J. Austin
A little lucky, Mike. I managed to order a new one for $10 (out of warranty), including shipping. The bad news is that they are on back order and will not be in for about a week or so. That happened to be my first time dealing with a Meade representative and I cannot complain about the help or time waiting on the phone. Now I did fax Meade from my workplace last week and still have not received a call or e-mail. Bizarre. At least a replacement will eventually be on the way. Craig
Subject: Re: newbie problems with auto-alignment Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2007 04:41:33 From: mail.westnet.com.au (email@example.com) Hi Mike, it's been very cloudy lately. I just did an easy align tonight, it seems to get within 2-3 degrees of the alignment star. I did a train the drive prior to that. JacquesMike here: That error could be due to a very slight error in the HOME position. So, not bad really. For the Auto Alignment error, you could do a CALIBRATE SENSOR (which helps the LNT find True North); perhaps that will help.
Subject: LNT Smartfinder Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2007 17:52:07 From: Craig Kopra (firstname.lastname@example.org) After having one of my many clumsy moments, I broke the Smartfinder off the LNT module of my telescope. Most of the notable online stores do not sell the Smartfinder probably because of the cost. Aside from Ebay, do you know of any sites that might sell the Smartfinder? Kind regards, CraigMike here: Contact Meade; they might send you a replacement lens for free. Let me know.
Subject: newbie problems with auto-alignment Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 23:59:01 From: mail.westnet.com.au (email@example.com) thanks for your great site and I hope you don't mind if I ask a few beginner questions. It's not easy to get started in this field. I just bought my first telescope, it is a Meade ETX-125. I normally live in Montreal but I am currently in Australia, near Melbourne. The viewing is normally excellent here as I am in a small town whith minimal light pollution. Unfortunately recently the weather is not so good. I am having trouble doing an automatic alignment and I am sure the scope is not pointing at any known stars ( I have a local star chart, Stellarium, etc.) so I must be doing something wrong. I have set the site for the proper latitude and longitude. I e-mailed Chriss at Oceanside Photo and Telescope where I bought the telescope and he mentioned that I should put the telescope in the home position, that is turn the base of the tube counter-clockwise until it hits its stop and point it towards the south. Is that correct? I think I should be using an equatorial mount and not a polar, a polar mount I believe is when the telescope tube is in between the forks and the tube is pointed to the North or South depending. The equatorial mount is when telescope is sitting flat on it's base, parallel to the ground, is that correct? Any advice to correct the situation? Thanks for any help, unfortunately the manual doesn't cover everything. I also help people out allot with pumps, just to let you know that I'm not just a taker. Cheers, Jacques Jacques Chaurette www.lightmypump.comMike here: With the PE model (which I assume you have since you asked about Auto Alignment), the rotation is CCW to the hard stop but then you leave it against the hard stop. If you don't have the PE model (or you are doing any of the other AutoStar alignment methods) then you do rotate it about 120 degrees back to North. Polar and equatorial are the same thing; Altitude/Azimuth (Alt/Az) is with the base horizontal. I recommend starting with Alt/Az as it is simpler for new users to use and the tripod is more stable.
And an update:
Seems I had it right after all, I did the auto-alignment tonight then I did a goto Jupiter and got pretty close. Hope it's not a coincidence but that's hardly likely, is it? I just need to refine that now. Cheers, Jacques
Thanks Mike, do you know of a forum where a newbie can ask such questions? JacquesMike here: There is the ETXAstro Yahoo Group, or you can just email with questions; I'll answer them if I can and post them on the ETX Site for others to answer and learn from. Of course, many of the "newbie" questions have already been asked and answered on my ETX Site; check here.
Hi Mike, tried to do an auto-alignment tonight and it just wouldn't work. I checked the time, date, DST, position, home set-up, everything seems to be as it should be. It didn't get close to any good alignment stars, so I moved it towards some by 5 or degrees. Then when I did a goto Jupiter, it was way out. Any suggestions? JacquesMike here: Try a test: do an Easy Alignment. Does that work any better?
Subject: ETX125 SmartFinder: Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 20:59:04 From: berger (firstname.lastname@example.org) After trying to align the newer vertical smartfinder and not having any luck getting the finder to be anywhere near aligned,had the horizontal adjustment as far possible to the left and vertical up as far as it would go but not close to being aligned. So now I did the following to check on why the finder was so far from alignment. Removed the LNT from the scope with one tiny Torx screw holding it on(Very cheap way of fastening it too the scope)and after removing the adjustment screws for vertical and horizontal being careful not to break the small wires going to the LNT circuit board,now remove four small screws holding the board in place.You should now see two small screws holding the dust cover for the laser diode remove the screws and here lies the problem with I believe many smartfinders. Looking at the laser diode it's mounted in a plastic mount and this is glued in place on top of the LNT in a slot. In my case the diode is about 5 deg slanted to the right so the dot is going to be way off and can never be fixed. This mounting system with gluing the diode and no way of moving it really is poor,not up to today's standards. Meade is sending a replacement and hopefully it will have a better aligned diode. Gary
Subject: ETX90PE Alignment/GoTo problem Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 10:12:02 From: Niels Peter Ditlefsen (email@example.com) Being a newbie to ETXPE and to your ETX-site, I did not succeed in finding an answer to my auto alignment/go to problem, I therefore kindly ask for a helping hand. Problem: During Auto Alignment the OTA stops fairly close to the AZ positon,but ALT is some 25deg. below the taget..It happens every time. Pressing Enter without any correction only means that the same 25 deg.-failure is repeated in a Go-To attempt. Correcting ALT to (what I think) is correct , is not accepted, AutoStar just sends me back to square one (Auto-Align start). In your archive , however, I found Mike Hogan's "PE-setup tips" dated 5 July 2006. I followed the instructions -to the letter- several times, but I am still in the same situation. Thank you in advance, Best Regards Niels Peter Ditlefsen ( 56.1N / 10.5E)Mike here: Some thoughts: the level sensor could be messed up, the AutoStar ROM could be corrupted, or you didn't do a CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES. You might also do a CALIBRATE SENSOR and (redo if you've already done them) CALIBRATE MOTOR and TRAIN DRIVES (on both axes). If those don't steps don't cure it, you could install a fresh ROM using software on Meade's Site (Windows only) or AutoStarX (for Mac OS X). To do the update you will need a #505 serial cable (which you can easily make) and a RS-232 serial port on your computer. Links to the software pages and cable instructions are on the Helpful Information: AutoStar Info page. If your computer has only USB you will need a USB-serial adapter. Note that not all work reliably with the AutoStar; see the article "AutoStar and USB" on the AutoStar Info page. I use a Keyspan model with my Apple PowerBook G4 under Mac OS X 10.4 (with AutoStarX) and it works fine.
Subject: That ETX-PE Finder! Sent: Friday, August 10, 2007 11:55:25 From: Dennis E Mathias (firstname.lastname@example.org) Okay. Let me chime in here. I can't get my finder adjusted either. I run out of travel on the vertical alignment. True enough--this is one flimsy mount. Even an ounce of torque will distort the alignment significantly. As to the vertical travel problem, stuffing a matchstick under the front of the finder mount (just for a test) will allow alignment to happen. So I'm now investigating some method of mounting by taking the two screws out of the mount, inserting perhaps neoprene tape under the leading edge and then reattaching. I suspect that there were some last minute engineering changes on this mount and some of us got caught. There is a suspicious hole where logic would dictate a screw should go to stabilize the assembly but disassembly shows there are no threads for a screw to go into. BTW, this is the PE with the finder lens VERTICAL and NOT HORIZONTAL. I think that is a recent solution. Were it not for the LNT I would definitely jetison this finder for one more robust even though a NO GAIN finder idea (i.e., red dot) is a good one since once the scope goes through the autostar alginment it is not needed for the rest of the viewing session. Just not this finder. Also, my alignment after motor training and calibration has rusulted in field accessible objects in the 26mm stock eyepiece. That has been VERY gratifying. It works. I do NOT home then backoff. I just home the scope and go for alignment and after second star acquistion I'm done. I read the trials and tribs of others doing this and don't know what to think. Not my experience. If I can just come up with a finder stability solution I'd be real happy. I kind of wish that the LNT module and finder would dovetail into a connector so it can be removed for transportation. Somebody comes up with this and they'll make a fortune. My scope is the 90PE BTW. ---------------------------------------------- Dennis Mathias
Subject: ETX-125 PE Problem With Smartfinder Allignment Sent: Wednesday, August 8, 2007 09:38:31 From: Dalzelle, Josh (IE) @ CIN (Josh.Dalzelle@L-3Com.com) I just recently purchased a brand new ETX-125PE with the newer SmartFinder design (with the fixed lens) and tried to perform the allignment per the manual. First off I'll say that I'm very dissapointed with the quality and design of the LNT/SmartFinder unit for such an expensive instrument. It's so flimsy and weak I'm not sure if it will ever stay in allignment. The main problem I'm having is that I'm out of adjustment travel, I've run out of thread on the thumb screw and I'm still far to the left of the target. Has there been any kind of consensus on the best way to deal with this problem? Other than that I've been pretty happy with the purchase. Despite not being able to use the SmartFinder I took it out in my yard for a test drive and the LNT and Auto Allign worked beautifully. I was looking at a fairly clear image of Jupiter literally 10 minutes after setting up the tripod. I definitely look forward to some great nights with this thing once I get my case and travel to someplace dark with it, I'm just more than a little skeptical about the SmartFinder module being of such a shoddy design and of course I'd like to be able to actually allign and use it. Thanks guys. Joshua DalzelleMike here: Just to be certain you are using it correctly, check the article "Using the SmartFinder" in the "Premier Edition / LNT Specific Tips" section on the Helpful Information: Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject: Positive review of Meade's Revised ETX LNT / SmartFinder & Meade's manufacture / warranty shortcomings Sent: Monday, August 6, 2007 02:41:38 From: Tom Farrell (email@example.com) Mister Mighty ETX I corresponded briefly with you a number of months ago regarding alignment issues affecting my new ETX 90 PE with UHTC. So very very very much has since happened. Wanted to report both good news and bad: Here is the GOOD: The new Smartfinder / LNT combination is SO superior to the old one I consider it is criminal that Meade calls this an "improvement" and did not do the honest thing and put out a mass recall on the original less-than-perfect units. The redesigned unit is practically turnkey a real revelation, being the first time I saw this technology function properly after my original purchase nearly five months prior. Where the original unit I had was entirely random in all it did, and the second I was sent never even powered up, this one gets so close to dead-center on its celestial targets I am awe-struck. And none of the extra instructions so helpfully given on your website for prior LNT / Smartfinders are even necessary. Doesn't matter where you point the base, you don't have to do any partial turns back from the documented "home position." The problem with he redesigned LNT / Smartfinder (and this is not the "BAD" part I mentioned about) is that the unit juts up inches higher than then old one, and while crafted of a sturdy polymer, the mount is so slender in places, I can just see it snapping off with relatively little pressure. The Smartfinder, which now juts from atop the LNT module rather than from its side as in the old version, also looks liable to snap off and I honestly cannot see any functional reason why the redesinged Smartfinder could not have been hinged so as to fold down when not in use. The Smartfinder creates a storage problem as well. This was also true of the original LNT / Smartfinder desing, sine Meade never produced an ETX 90 case designed to store either model. I think the old version could have been accomodated by the existing case after recutting the foam padding, But the redesigned LNT / Smartfinder simply requires a case deeper than the aluminum ETX 90 case which I own at least when placed in the intended oritnation, withi the flat screw-threaded based of the tube facing down. Only thing I can think to do is recut the padding so as to be able to secure the newly redesigned ETX 90 PE / UHTC when resting on its side. Assuming this can be successfully done, what would be sacrificed is accessory storage space. But anything is better than keeping my ETX 90 PE UHTC on my desk, using the clear plastic bag it was delievered in as a dust cover. (I WOULD LOVE TO HEEAR FROM ANYBODY who can offer tips about the most effective way to cut and modify this kind of foam in a neat and efficient manner.) Now for the BAD: There seem to be at present, based on my experience which spans over five months simply to obtain an ET 90 PE UHTC in reliable condition signs of some major problems at Meade with regard to manufacturing, management, customer service telephony and response to directed customer complaints. In saying this I want to be clear that I think Meade makes a great product, I am disappointed but not irate, and nothing I am saying is a condemnation of the Meade brand One or two inadequate employees can gunk up the whole works, and it's clear from what Meade phone support representatives have shared that Meade employees are somewhat overworked at present. I am attaching the email I sent to Meade's customer support manager, because it concisely explains the issues I outline above, and I am hoping it might be of assistance to readers of your website where Meade seems either too busy or overworked to properly attend to email inbox queues. Hoping my experience would provide welcomed feedback for management at Meade, I went to great pains to clearly, callmly detail everything which lead to my current warranty issue, including: the timeline and sequence of flaws, over five months, which I am still incredulous about having encountered; my testing methods so as to dispell the natural suspicion (which I would have as well) that I misunderstood how to use the equipment; Meade's endless and erratically-functioning phone queues; unbelievable randomness on the part of UPS. Readers of the Mighty ETX webiste, including any of Meade management, are free to judge my experience or even me as they wish. I will be glad to field any questions readers might like to pose. (I AM PARTICULARLY INTERESTED to know if others have encountered similar difficulties, so as to ascertain whehter my experience is as unique as what almost all Meade customer representatives have told me.) I AM ALSO MOST CURIOUS as to reader's take on the final issue I seek warranty service on as detailed in my letter to Meade since I it does not affect function at current but, at least to me, indicates likely failure in the future. I WOULD ALSO BE GLAD TO SEND ANYBODY a short MP3 of my motor drives moving in each direction, should anybody wish to attempt a diagnosis of my remaining mechanical issue, based on sound alone which is the only kind of diagnosis possible short of opening he telescope up and voiding the warrant.) At any rate, it is now two weeks since this email was sent. Maybe I should wait longer, but time lapsed is what is at issue on Meade's side of things anyway. I have left messages on the recipient's voice mail, not demanding immediate attention, but simply requesting confirmation of receipt of my email as submitted to the email address as provided by Meade customer support and if not received then an email address to which to send. This email did NOT get bounced back to me from Meade's SMTP server as undeliverable. So I assume it made it to the recipient's inbox, even though I got neither of my requested but optional "received" and "read" confirmations. Even if my email got miscategorized on the recipient's comptuer as "Junk" email, after recieving my phone messages, it should have been an easy thing for the recipient to look for it there. I am mystified and worn out from trying and trying and trying. At this point, having no further recourse, no more direct way to get Meade's attention, I am giving up on trying to contact Meade, giving up on my issue, givng up of Meade doing what they can to make this excruciatingtly prolonged siuation right. If Meade refuses to pay shipping, I may as well wait and see if the telescope actually fails before footing the shipping bill myslef. But until such time, every time I use the telescope, the suspect noise it makes will continue to irritate and concern me. What else can I do? Anyway, I truly hope some good for others can come of sharing my experience in this venue. Letter to follow my signature below. Thanks, Tom Farrell From: Tom Farrell Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2007 7:57 AM To: Ty Robertson Subject: Supervisor assistance needed on RGAHR00998 Mr. Robertson I have obtained your email address after having just spend a second half hour waiting to speak to a second customer representative after being transferred to a supervisor's voice mail and encountering a full queue. I am not irate, only weary and frustrated, and not just about today. I understand this is not the customer representatives' fault and in fact they give excellent service when I can get through to them. I appreciate Meade's reputation for quality optics, but am I do hope at the tail end of dealing with a seemingly endless set of issues in simply trying to obtain through an implausible number of warranty repairs and replacements the perfectly working brand new ETX 90 Premium Edition with UHTC I thought I had purchased a number of months ago. What I need is quite simple: for you to approve shipping for on RGAHR00998 at Meade's expense, so as to correct at no cost to me what I pray proves to be the sole remaining ETX 90 PE / UHTC flaw I will have to deal with. Evidently, the shipping requires your approval, since the unit in question arrived more than one month ago. However, there are a number of extenuating circumstances warranting your consideration which I will discuss gladly with you (704-770-0420) if desired: 1. This unit arrived from Meade with a faulty AutoStar unit (would not light, buttons would not function). The replacement AutoStar was misdelivered by UPS and did not find its way to me for weeks. (UPS persistently just leaves stuff on the doorstep even an entire ETX 90 PE / UHTC without knocking or concern as to whether anybody is at home. UPS also, by the way, creates, and leaves behind when nobody is home, shipping labels for "single pick-up only" and never returns all without regard for the scheduled pick-up days or what Meade actually requested. This typically resulted in the actual pickup occurring one to two weeks after originally scheduled.) 2. Trying to get in touch with Meade customer support so often results either in being on hold indefinitely only to end up being disconnected or shuttled off to a voice mail queue which is full. Likewise, my attempts to utilize Meade's online repair request form resulted in a "server error." (Not a "user error" I do software development for a living and I know the difference.) All this has caused non-trivial delays. 3. I feel Meade needs to go the extra mile to make good on my warranty after this ordeal of faulty equipment, repairs and replacements which stretches back to my original purchase in February: Original unit faulty brand new out of box and still faulty even after return from factory for repairs (faulty motor drives, randomness in LNT and AutoStar function). First replacement unit not properly manufactured and unable to power up (LED on base would not light battery contacts sliding around, not fastened to battery compartment, power lead(s) evidently not securely soldered). Second replacement unit delivered with perforated rubber light-guard on eyepiece and non-functioning AutoStar which, when replaced, finally proved the ETX 90 PE / UHTC to perform according to specifications (and even beyond my expectations!) but with an aberration in one motor drive I would be a fool not to have repaired under warranty so as to avoid potential failure later on (when slewing counter-clockwise ONLY, a loud, irritating sound on top of the expected motor drive sounds not unlike motion picture film shuttling through a projector (tick-tick-tick-tick-tick ) suspect of a loose, flawed or improperly installed gear which did not go away but even got worse with use). Honestly, I have always felt incredulous when having to telephone Meade to request these various repairs / replacements. I have a hard time understanding how one customer could encounter all these problems yet I know that none were imagined, improperly diagnosed or in any way trivial. Only when I could diagnose a flaw with certainty and repeatability (as is my training in the field of software development) and only when a Meade customer representative agreed with me, have I requested warranty service. My diagnostic procedures have not been sloppy or rash as I would imagine is the case with many customers. I fully read the instruction manual multiple times, consulted with Meade customer support representatives and tried everything they suggested, studied the more detailed set of procedures posted by users on the "Mighty ETX" website checked, rechecked and had friends check everything from battery life and polarity to why Polaris wasn't a few degrees south of due east as my first unit kept insisting and spent many, many, many nights checking off each step involved in proper setup, alignment, calibration and use of my telescope, reviewing and repeating procedures till my fingers nearly froze off. Until just a recently, once I had the replacement AutoStar finally arrived, I had never even seen a targeted alignment star anywhere near the SmartFinder viewer had never even one of these telescopes be able to slew itself anyplace near the moon. I was so relieved and delighted to finally see that with everything finally functioning correctly the ETX 90 PE / UHTC provides with near turn-key performance. In short, I hope you can see how the situation I find myself in is not of my own making and I believe that, considering all I have had to endure, Meade owes it to me to pay to the shipping for warranty repair of the only remaining flaw I ever hope to encounter. I think at this point that, considering the track record, it is better to fix one known bug rather than swap out for yet another replacement unit with unknown possible issues of its own. Let me assure you I am still upbeat about Meade and my ETX 90 PE / UHTC and know that manufacturing flaws do occasionally occur though the chances of as many as I have encountered with this telescope are well astronomical. I have appreciated Meade's professionalism throughout. I look forward to getting my telescope back from repair, being able to recommend Meade to anybody who asks, and nights of happy star-gazing. Only then I'm sure I'm going to want one of those cool new mSky devices. Thank you for your time and attention. Sincerely, Tom Farrell
Subject: Two ETX things: Sent: Thursday, August 9, 2007 12:54:53 From: Tom Farrell (firstname.lastname@example.org) 1) You'd asked to learn what happened as regards my submission on multiple problems with ETX manufacture / repair and communication, and I'll be glad to let you know. Honestly, it may be a while, since I have tapped out all my communications options and your website is in a way a final attempt. Part of my motive in posting what I did to you is and I don't mean this in a cruel or nefarious way use the pressure of unfavorable PR to get Meade to act where they are not now. If that is unacceptable to you I understand. I've tried to be sensitive and undemanding with Meade throughout. 2) One thing I mentioned in my write-up was interest in sending anybody who could tell by listening (as one Meade customer support representative no longer working there could) whether the aberrant sound one of my drives is making in one direction only is liable to go away on its own or lead to eventual trouble -- the issue I had hoped to send the scope in to have repaired. It appears that your website supports pretty much only plain ASCII text user input. Or am I wrong? Is there a place I could post a brief MP3? (I know, I can post it on my own website, and perhaps send a link to be added to my post would that be acceptable?) Funny thing is, based on what I read In your website, I could likely open up the telescope and fix this issue with little or no problem and I do this all the time even with devices under warranty here I think it's prudent not to risk a voided warranty. Thanks very much. I really need to spend some time reading up on your website. It's been a few months and, now that I've gained familiarity with my telescope, I will be able to get so much more out of what I read. Tom
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