ETX-LS EDITION FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 August 2009

This page is for user comments and information specific to the ETX-LS. Items that are applicable to all ETX models (RA, EC, AT, BB, PE, LS) 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 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.

Mike here: The new Meade ETX-LS telescope is now available! This feedback page allows current and prospector ETX owners to chime in on their thoughts about the new model. User observation reports with the ETX-LS are now being reported on the Helpful Information: User Observations page. If you don't already know about the ETX-LS, check out these web sites:

Oceanside Photo and Telescope

Mike here: If you have received your ETX-LS, drop me an email with the version of the AutoStar III software you have installed. It is displayed when you power on the ETX-LS. You can also find it in the "SCOPE INFO" display (via the MODE key) on the AutoStar III. Include the date you received your ETX-LS. Lets see if there are different versions out there. Thanks!
Mike here: It appears from the all the reports I've received that AutoStar III version 1.07 has been installed on all ETX-LS models since they started shipping to customers. If you haven't already sent me your info, please send your AutoStar III software version number (it appears when you power on the ETX) and the date you received your ETX-LS. Thanks!
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Sunday, August 30, 2009 19:15:19
From:	Louis Welke (wwtpoper@yahoo.com)
After talking to Meade about the problems I have with the ETX-LS
and doing all the procedures that they want me to before giving up
and send it to them and waiting weeks before I get it back I decided to
try other methods myself and actually sometimes I get results that are
closer to success sometimes and not so good other times.
I am following the reviews of others that have the Ls and especially
the ones that are getting their Ls back after sending it in to be fixed
I understand that you might get a new Ls back after sending your
other one in to be fixed.
It will be interesting to see if this one will be the charm.
I want to believe that they will make sure that a fixed or replaced
Ls will operate as it should.
Another question I have is what do you think about Optcorp
plan that checks out a telescope you buy from them for a fee
according to what scope you bought??
Isn't there any responsibility from a merchant to be sure the
item they sell is in good working order??

Louis Welke
Mike here: I have no direct experience with the OPT plan but I've seen reports of happy people who had it. But it is like any insurance. You pay but you may not need to have paid. Yes, we all expect that everything works perfectly out of the box but that doesn't always happen (obviously). It doesn't matter whether it is a telescope, a computer, a phone, a TV, or a car. It should work and continue to work for a long time. But sometimes things happen and it just doesn't work out that way. Dealers like OPT will support their customers when there are problems.
Subject:	ETX - LS Feedback: Scope inoperative after firmware read error
Sent:	Saturday, August 29, 2009 15:19:24
From:	mbain@attglobal.net (mbain@attglobal.net)
After using the ETX-LS for less than three weeks, a message suddenly
appeared "Error reading firmware. Please reflash memory." Since then,
the telescope no longer works. I've tried to connect it to a computer to
reprogram the flash memory but with no success.

Is there a way to make the ETX-LS power on in a "safe mode" where it
would just read the firmware (from a computer or maybe from a miniSD
card or microSD card in a miniSD adapter) and immediately reprogram the
flash memory? If not, I suppose it will have to be returned for repair.

Rephrasing the question in a more general way: what is the step-by-step
procedure to recover from a non-functional scope by reflashing the
firmware into the scope's memory?

Thank you for any help,

Moshe Bain
Mike here: As mentioned in the manual, if you insert the mini or micro SD card in the card slot with the software installed from ASU 5.8, then the telescope will boot from that and install the software.

And:

It worked, thank you!
 
At first it would not work because I was using a microSDHC card (in a
miniSD adapter, of course). The ETX-LS does not seem to accept SDHC
cards. But once I prepared a 2GB microSD card with V1.07 firmware (over
200MB download!) using ASU 5.8, put it in the miniSD slot and powered
up, the scope booted into program mode on its own. It then took about 30
min to reprogram V1.07 into the scope's memory and now it is back in
operation.

It is strange that the ETX-LS will not read SDHC cards, given that it
insists on having the card formatted using FAT32. SD cards don't need
FAT32, as usually the largest available size is 2GB, which can be
formatted using FAT (this is in fact the factory-standard format for
SD).

Why Meade uses the miniSD slot size is a mystery. Standard SD is much
more widely available and can be read on most computers without having
to use any adapters. It is also easier to handle because it is somewhat
bigger --- especially in the dark. Ergonomically the whole thing is very
poorly designed: the slot is too close to a thicker potion of the
telescope fork, making it difficult to pull out the card. Also the card
goes too far into the slot before it clicks in place. You need long
nails or a small flat screwdriver to be able to press the card far
enough in.

ASU 5.8 would at first crash immediately on startup in my computer until
I found out that it needs the font size of the display to be set to
"normal" (96 DPI). I had the font size set to a bigger value to make
text easier to read. So now every time I want to use ASU I first have to
remember to reconfigure this option on my computer --- a pain since it
requires restarting the computer.

ASU 5.8 offers to "download and install new version 5.8 from the
Internet" every time even though it is already installed. It also wants
to download "ETX-LS V1.07" from the Internet every time even though it
has already done that and version 1.07 is on the hard disk. And when you
click "upgrade autostar firmware" it takes a long time to show the next
screen. Just when you think the program has crashed again the next
screen appears.

The scope has a USB interface but the driver is a "USB-to-serial" type.
It installs as a non-standard serial port that is not automatically
detected by the software. You have to go hunt it down (COMx) in device
manager. And ASU 5.8 does not retrieve the object list from the Autostar
III handbox (though it will send the data to the handbox).

The object information for comets and asteroids as displayed by the
ETX-LS has completely wrong magnitudes (such as a comet with magnitude
147 ). This is for data retrieved by ASU from the IAU site.

All in all, not the best "user experience" (as software publishers like
to call it).

I wonder how many more bugs are lurking there...
 
Thank you again for your help.
 
Moshe Bain
Mike here: Glad you got it working. You might want to send your ASU problem report to engineer@meade.com. Don't expect a response however.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Thursday, August 27, 2009 14:55:18
From:	John Fuqua (johnfuqua@embarqmail.com)
I received my ETX-LS ACF last week and played with it all weekend.   It
has yet to find Arcturus, the brightest star in the western sky at the
moment, when in the auto mode (location is Florida Panhandle).  Yet if I
go into two star alignment mode it will find it close enough.   I
believe there is a flaw in the picture recognition software for that
star in the auto mode.   I have had successful auto alignments (not
using Arcturus) but many more unsuccessful.   I am still playing with
settings but everything else seems to work.  Initially with GPS it would
not point at Polaris and was always 10 or 15 degrees off.   After I
restored the original settings it now points at Polaris/North every
time.  Have no explanation for that.   Optical quality is great.  I love
the video out feature.  I am using a 12 inch LCD monitor.   I have tried
taking photos but have more playing to do before I can comment one way
or the other.  It is a wide field of view.
 
John
Mike here: During the Auto Align process, where does the OTA point just before it starts slewing to the first alignment star? Is the OTA essentially horizontal?

And:

Yes it is horizontal and it seeks to find that position.  Right before
it starts to slew it is pointing to Polaris.   I did call Meade and ask
if it is supposed to point to true north or Polaris and I never really
got a firm answer.   But from my experience so far I think it should
point to Polaris, at least if you are doing the 2 star alignment. 
Initially it pointed to the right of Polaris and it would point about
the same distance to the right of Arcturus.  After the system restore it
started to point to Polaris.  It just irks me it cannot find Arcturus
which is very bright.  I do not see how it can miss it.  Gotta be a
database issue.
Of course now we are having rain so I do not know when I will get to try
again.
John
Mike here: Check the Daylight Saving setting. Also, it is possible that you need to adjust the CCD "finder" center.

And:

If I use GPS I should not have to set the time at all.  I am using the GPS
setting.  I have "aligned" the CCD finder.  Saw no difference in finding
Arcturus.
Mike here: Well, yes and no. Check the Local Time in the Scope Info display.

And:

OK will do.  Skies cleared up some and I got to try again tonight.  Now
I cannot get the finder camera to center.  Keeps saying cannot identify
the star.  Tried a couple.  Next step is to hook up the video display
and take a picture and see if the eclips is working at all.  Ugh.  New
technology is great - when it works!

Subject:	Meade Repairs
Sent:	Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:06:39
From:	Bellomy, Robert S. (ROBERT.S.BELLOMY@saic.com)
Statused my RGA with Meade today.  The LS will have been with them 2
weeks as of Friday.  They still estimate 2-4 more weeks.  I emphasized
to them that I was initially told it would be a 2 week turnaround. 
Apparently they must have a lot of repairs to make.  I expressed my
concern with it possibly taking as long as one month as I would like to
use the scope.  I am not convinced that they are working expediently,
but I do want them to do a good checkout and repair.  Did they give you
any idea how long the repair would take on your scope??
 
Robert
 
Robert Bellomy
Mike here: Haven't heard anything.
Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Tuesday, August 25, 2009 20:13:36
From:	Stephen Holland (s_n_holland@hotmail.com)
My replacement ETX-LS ACF arrived yesterday. A warning to Canadian or
other international readers of this forum...make sure Meade indicates on
the shipping document that the telescope is a replacement under warranty
at no charge. In my case they did not and UPS has charged me Canadian
tax and a brokerage fee (C$240!!). Needless to say, I am very unhappy! I
am attempting to resolve the issue with Meade and UPS. The replacement
goes through it's automatic alignment procedure but it wasn't completely
dark at the time (twilight) so it searched for 6 stars and gave me the
successful alignment message. I do not understand why it failed to find
Arcturus as this star was very bright at the time. I do have issues with
the alignment after it "successfully" aligned. My first selection was
Jupiter as it was very bright and an interesting object. The scope
slewed to Jupiter but when it stopped and beeped, it was not in the
eyepiece or the finder scope. I had to manually slew to Jupiter. Once
centered it kept it there but it missed finding it automatically. When I
have another clear night I am going to try entering the right ascension
and declination manually for a recognizable star and see if the scope
will correctly slew to the correct location. If it doesn't then I don't
know what my next step should be.
Mike here: I just discovered that your message from yesterday had been rejected as SPAM and deleted UNREAD due to the blank subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette item on the ETX Site Home Page to avoid this happening in the future. Thanks for understanding. As to the alignment issue, have you done a CALIBRATE (formerly called "training") on the drives?

And:

It seems like one step forward, two steps back trying to get my ETX-LS
working properly. Last night, before dark, I did a calibrate
("training") of the drives and aligned the spotter scope as well. Then,
at darkness, I tried the automatic alignment procedure again. This time
it did find Arcturus very quickly and then proceeded to Izar. The scope
spent a long time here and then announced the alignment had failed. So I
selected the two star alignment from the menu. It repeated the finding
of north (but not GPS and tilt/tip) and then slewed to Arcturus, asking
me to center it (was already centered). Next, it went to Mizar in the
big dipper and it was also centered. I hit enter and got the successful
alignment message. I then selected Jupiter and the scope slewed to it.
It was exactly in the center of the spotter scope but slightly off
center in the eyepiece. So this is an improvement other than the
automatic alignment failure issue. I'm thinking that further tweaking
may get everything working and I wonder if the Eclipse CCD is causing
much of the problems myself and others are having. I may experiment with
the CCD adjustments available in the menu to see if this helps.
Mike here: Since the first star was found during Auto Align, it does sound like the CCD "finder" needs some centering.
Subject:	Re: ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Tuesday, August 25, 2009 16:42:39
From:	Professional Family Consultants (f.stewart@shaw.ca)
I retrained the drive this afternoon.  Don't know yet whether it will
help with the alignment but will test it out this weekend.  The Autostar
III version I have is 1.07

Regards,
Francis Stewart

Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback and Firmware Version
Sent:	Tuesday, August 25, 2009 04:00:51
From:	Michael Cox (chryseplanitia@gmail.com)
ETX-LS Firmware: v1.07
Date Telescope Received: 5-Aug-2009

With the pertinent spreadsheet data out of the way I would like a brief
mention of my experience and my impressions of the telescope thus far.

This is my third Meade telescope purchase. My first two being a Polaris
Newtonian Reflector and an ETX-90/EC (The gears on the 90/EC stripped
out long ago and still need to be replaced). In spite of owning two
telescopes previously I am still quite a novice when it comes to
astronomy, but I find I know enough to get by for the most part. I am
currently living in Tucson Arizona, which is where all my observing is
done from.

I received my telescope on the 5th of August and unpacked the next day
on the 6th. Assembly was easy enough, and I merely had to wait on the
stars to come out here in Tucson. This is where my extensive problems
began. Flip the switch on and the Autostar lights up as expected, but
there is no sound from the speaker as the start-up guide says there
should be. The telescope goes through it's 12 - 15 min routine
attempting alignment still so I'm not too concerned, but at the end it
says "Alignment Failed". I spent one entire battery lifetime (Appx 6 - 7
hours) running the telescope through it's initial start-up and various
menu functions to include: calibrating the finder, motor training,
volume level, etc. It became quite frustrating so when the batteries
died I decided I had had enough and packed up for the night.

The next night I had two fresh sets of batteries (really do need to buy
that AC adapter for it) and was determined to at least trouble shoot the
problems effectively. After about an hour of the same problems I had
come to the following conclusions:

1) The speaker on the telescope is completely inoperable 2) The
telescope was consistently off by a similar margin while attempting
alignment (not a large amount, but enough to put any objects out of the
view of the eyepiece) 3) The Autostar has a tendency to freeze up during
some menu commands when not aligned properly

From here I decided to disable the GPS acquisitioning of the telescope
and input my location manually. The auto align still failed after this
so next I tried two star alignment. This worked fine and I got an hour
or so of some viewing of Jupiter and such since I was getting frustrated
again. At this point I had to switch out the batteries again and tried
aligning the finder and training the motor a few more times to no avail.

I have since been on vacation in California without the telescope, and
just recently returned and have been putting off getting the situation
solved. I contacted OPT, who I purchased the telescope through, and was
advised to try updating the firmware to see if that helped. I also
contacted Meade, and they were of the mind that it will probably need to
be sent to them. I think I will probably try the firmware update, but am
rather skeptical that it will succeed.

On a separate note, when I purchased the telescope from OPT I also got
the SkyAssurance 3 Year Warranty as well as the 3 Way Shipping. However,
currently Meade DOES NOT cover the ETX-LS under their SkyAssurance
program. I contacted OPT concerning this as well and received some
helpful and quite timely information. Right now Meade is in the process
of having a bid approved (By their third party insurance company, forgot
their name) to have the ETX-LS added to the SkyAssurance plan, but it
could be a few more weeks or perhaps even months before a Yes or No is
sent back. You can thank Vince at OPT for that information, which he got
back to me on the same day.

Overall here are my ratings all things considered:

ETX-LS :  Fair to Poor
             (The telescope I received has had some major issues it
             seems to me, and it's only redeeming aspect that I see
             right now is it's optics are superb, far superior to my
             90/EC)

Meade  :  Average
             (Customer service was good, but they have offered little
             helpful advice overall and of course there is the fact that
             I got a shoddy telescope)

OPT     : Outstanding
             (For anybody who doesn't know it yet, they have stupendous
             customer service and have been quite helpful to me thus far
             in all aspects, and I got the telescope something like 4
             days after I ordered it)

Thanks for reading, and I hope everybody else has an easier time with
their new telescopes than I have thus far.

Clear Skies,

Michael Cox

Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Monday, August 24, 2009 07:18:30
From:	Professional Family Consultants (f.stewart@shaw.ca)
I have just received my replacement ETX-LS scope.  The first was
returned to Meade in July due to severe alignment problems.  I tried out
the new scope this weekend (South-central Saskatchewan, Canada) and,
unfortunately, the alignment was way off.  Four different attempts over
the weekend resulted in an inability of the scope to find any of the
alignment stars, and on some occasions was even pointing below the
horizon.  Each time I was told (by the scope) to try setting up in a
clear area away from trees and buildings.  But I was on a high hill in
the country overlooking a valley, no trees, and not one cloud that could
obstruct the stars in the sky. I will try to retrain the drive, but I'm
not too hopeful.  I don't know if Meade runs any checks prior to
shipping out their scopes, but reading the reviews, I know I'm not alone
in my frustration with this scope.
 
Francis Stewart
Mike here: Where does the telescope point after it completes its North and Level determination and just before it starts slewing towards the first alignment star?

And:

Thanks for the quick response.  Just before it starts slewing to find
the first guide star, the scope is facing northeast.

By the way, your LS site and responses to the reviews are great.
Mike here: Is the OTA level before it starts slewing to the star?

And:

Yes, it is level.
Mike here: Mine was NOT level; had a bad sensor apparently.
Subject:	etx-ls
Sent:	Monday, August 24, 2009 06:41:47
From:	Murray Harris (mharris562@gmail.com)
I just purchased the ETX-ls with version 1.07 firmware,  I have not had
any of the issues mentioned. I have used telescopes, but this is the
first one I bought for myself, and it worked as advertised for me.  I
set up in my backyard, where i have a good view of the NW and SW sky's.
I flipped the switch and 12 Min's later I was looking at Jupiter and 4
of its moons.  Jupiter was not dead center, but it did point to all the
stars in the today's best tour.  I have a fair amount of light pollution
so was not able to make out all objects. I do need to get some lens's as
all I have is the plossl 26mm that came with it an d a meade series 5000
14mm.  Any recomondetions for lenses that would go well with this
telescope would be appreciated.  M Harris
Mike here: There are several articles on eyepieces on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page. And of course, look through the Accessory Reviews: Eyepieces page. Keep in mind the theoretical maximum magnification for any telescope (see the ETX FAQ page if you are unsure how to determine that).
Subject:	Re: ETX LS 6 ACF GPS problems
Sent:	Sunday, August 23, 2009 19:02:47
From:	jp@loreille.com (jp@loreille.com)
just got back from my cottage where the GPS readout gave me again a city
that i have never heard of  (close to my place anyway) but you were
right the Lat long were dead on. Still at my home ithey are off by 20Kmh
southwest.

One thing to note is that if you reboot,  calculation may differ by 1 to
5 seconds on the Lat. but not on the Long.

Also my problem with alignment seems to be partial : sometimes its right
on , then its way off, pretty strange.

By the way i did get additional eyepieces and its making a big
difference tx ,

I was wondering what people will use as a monitor with the LS , i just
checked the video output through my tv and the image is crappy as if it
was to be broadcast on a computer monitor only , any thoughts ?

TX for your ideas and input

Jean-pierre Brie
Mike here: I'm not surprised that the GPS "location" would vary a little bit each time. That's probably within the allowed error for commercial receivers. As to a TV monitor, I'm waiting to another ETX-LS and then I hope to try my old composite video Apple II color monitor (assuming it still works; it has been boxed up for about 20 years!).
Subject:	The ETX-LS telescope
Sent:	Saturday, August 22, 2009 20:46:28
From:	Louis Welke (wwtpoper@yahoo.com)
I have tried many times to get my LS to work correctly and have tried
moving the telescope to different locations but got the same results.
Today I read with great interest your problems with the LS you just
received and you seem to have the very same problems I have had in
alignment especially to where the scope points when slewing to Arcturus
and you get a message about alignment failure almost exactly like I do.

I had all of your reviews on this 'scope printed out so I can tell Meade
what the problems I am having and hopefully they will have heard these
same problems from other folks besides you and I and will find out why
this is happening.

I am going to call them and I am sure that just like you I will be
sending back my LS and hopefully get a LS that does what it was
advertised to do.

Thanks very much for sharing your experience with all of us about your
LS and letting many of us know that these problems seem to be common
with the LS and Meade will investigate why it is happening.

Best of luck in receiving another ETX-LS that works great.

Louis Welke

And:

I have a few questions to ask you about sending back my ETX-LS to Meade.

when you sent your LS back did you send it back by UPS ? and did you
have to pay for the shipping? or is this something that Meade will
cover?

And what did you include with the LS when you sent it back? did you send
them any eyepieces or hand controller? or just the LS by itself in the
original containers.

I am going to call them and get a return number  but wasn't sure about
what else I need to do.

Thanks so much for your help.

Louis Welke
Mike here: Meade will tell you how to ship and what to ship. If they are going to repair the telescope, you will likely just return the telescope itself. If they are going to swap it for a new one, you will send back the telescope and the accessories that were in the telescope box. You will not need to return the tripod. I hope you kept the original shipping boxes. As to cost, that will vary depending on what Meade determines. Usually, the owner has to pay for return shipping but not always.

And:

I called Meade today and of course they wanted me to calibrate the
finder/sensor based on the problems I was having, I am sure you did the
same thing without any luck but I will jump through their hoops and see
if this does any good.
Thanks for getting back to me so soon.

Clear skies 
Lou Welke
Mike here: Yep, I did!
Subject:	Your Meade LS
Sent:	Friday, August 21, 2009 07:58:27
From:	Bill Stewart (BStewart@StewartComputer.com)
Over on CloudyNights.com there is a thread on "ETX-LS Reviews?".  On
that thread there was a link to your site and it was brought up that
Meade should have double-checked that scope before sending it to you.

I posted that I'd bet that you bought it off the shelf and didn't get it
directly from Meade.  Is that the case?  I am glad to see that they are
replacing yours and hopefully they will make it right.  My ETX-125PE has
been back 6 times and they refused to replace it.

I am sure that you have a bit more 'pull' with Meade, but I am sure that
you will give a honest review of the LS.

Is it possible for you to post on the thread on CloudyNights?  Can I say
I wrote to you and post your response?
 
Thanks,
 
Bill Stewart
Mike here: As I clearly mention my review, "Meade sent me an ETX-LS 6" ACF". However, it did not go through any extra pre-shipping tests just because it was coming to me. So, whether the problem was a defective level sensor, or one that went bad quickly, or one that was somehow damaged in shipment, I don't know. Hopefully Meade will be able to determine that when it arrives back at their office. And yes, I have been known for honestly reporting the good, the bad, and the occasional ugly on my ETX Site. That will not change. You may cross-post this response to Cloudy Nights.

And:

Thanks for your reply Mike.  I have NO doubt that your reviews will be
totally fair.  I am looking forward to reading them.

Bill

Subject:	ETX-LS6
Sent:	Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:07:27
From:	Bellomy, Robert S. (ROBERT.S.BELLOMY@saic.com)
I am sorry to hear of your problem with the ETX-LS.  I finally sent mine
in and Meade received it last Monday.  I will probably call them to get
an update as to what they have found or are going to do.  I will update
when I get word.
 
Best regards,
 
Robert Bellomy

Subject:	ETX-LS First Light Report
Sent:	Thursday, August 20, 2009 01:20:14
From:	John Farrant (johnfarrant@gmail.com)
I hope you and the better half are settling down in your new home. Good
luck to you both.

I think that Richard Plowman's first light report was right on the
button. Without an external monitor there is no way to tell if the built
in camera is in focus or not. The software won't then be able to
recognise star patterns. Result - alignment failure ...

Is the lens holder a screw in type or is it fixed? Twisting the lens cap
as you remove it could cause the lens to shift in or out.

Maybe some of these alignment problems are simply a result of an out of
focus CCD camera. Because of our experiences with the ETX-AT/PE we tend
to look for the worse that can happen - electrical failure, software
bugs etc.

The ETX-LS looks solidly built and I wish Meade every success.
 
John
Mike here: Good question about the CCD lens. My new ETX-LS is back in the hands of UPS and I haven't yet received the replacement, so I can't check mine. Things are slowly getting settled here. Now that my observatory is up and running, I have a place to go when I want to get away from unpacking.
Subject:	ETX LS 6 ACF GPS problems
Sent:	Wednesday, August 19, 2009 13:56:23
From:	jp@loreille.com (jp@loreille.com)
I  bought my  ETX in July  and have used it quite a lot even though the
weather has been rather tough on us up north ! ( i live close to
Montreal) .

Now my problem with the  GPS seems to be constant : I use the scope in
two different location 100 miles apart and both give me a  GPS location
of at least 50 miles downsouth (both different of course).

I did try to input manually my location (montreal) but then the scope
says the alignement  is succesfull but the last star chosen (Arcturus)
is way off the finder.

So i have to resolve on my slighltly southward location but then the
scope is usable , objects are  in the finder but consistently in the
lower field of view.

I did try the alignment procedure a few times but it did not change
anything. i still have the finder alignment to try though...

Should i be considering getting a new scope from Meade?

By the way i am a complete newbie here, and i have to admit i was a bit
disappointed with my first glimpse at the stars, i thought the objects
would be bigger and brighter Jupite for instance is like a small dot
with two dividing lines. Still,  i enjoyed the pleasure of nightwatching
a lot and look forward for more intensive session (weather permitting) I
have V1.07 and i am very interested in your use of the scope with a mac
as its the only laptop i have.

Keep on the good work and thanks!

Jean-pierre Brie
Mike here: The GPS named location may be off but are the lat/long coordinates correct for your location? They were on my ETX-LS even though the named location was 100 miles south. As to the alignment star pointing error, is your problem like what I've reported with my ETX-LS (on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page)? As to objects, remember that stars will not be magnified due to their extreme distance. With Jupiter (and many other planets) you will be able to see the planet's disk (and cloud bands, as you've seen) as well as some moons. To get additional magnification you need to additional eyepieces and/or a Barlow Lens.
Mike here: Thanks to everyone who provided a received date and AutoStar III version number. From the information I've received so far, it appears that all ETX-LS models shipped to date have version 1.07. If you haven't sent me this info, please do. Thanks.
Subject:	Carry Case Feedback and Alignment Issues
Sent:	Tuesday, August 18, 2009 13:58:35
From:	Paul Forbes (PForbes@apotex.com)
Just found your web site...great.  I have the EXT-LS with Autostar III
with version 1.07 with the latest updates...I think.

2 items of interest:

1) Carry Case: I found a less expensive option ($100). I found a perfect
size hard shell luggage case that the foam the unit was shipped in, fits
perfectly. I will get more info and attach a picture if people are
interested.
2) I have also had firmware issues and alignment. When I first fired it
up...I got the message " error please reload firmware"....I downloaded
the firmware on the mini SD and loaded and the EXT appears to attempt
the alignment process. Unfortunately it says "unable to find the
alignment star" and appears to give up leaving me in manual mode. I
bought this a few months ago and have not had a very enjoyable
experience and bit embarrassed when I show friends my dysfunctional
telescope. I have called the tech support with unclear inconsistent
suggestions.....I am about to try to "retrain the drive"....

I think I have a great telescope but it has not reached it potential I
am losing energy. It may have been made on Monday after a long
weekend...feel like sending it back
 
Any thoughts based on your experience.
 
Paul Forbes
Mike here: Are you experiencing the same pointing errors I reported on?
Purchased the ETX-LS on July 8, 2009 from Khan Scope Centre Toronto Ont.
The issue may be similar to the pointer error mention in some of e-mails
on the website. I consistently fails alignment and trying 'tonight's
best" it doesn't slew to any objects. I figure I need to try to "train
the drive" although I find the instruction confusing. I am considering
calling Meade and asking for a replacement since I have been hampered
with issues from initial start-up.
Cheers,
Paul
Mike here: See my report on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page.

And:

I read the article. I look forward to reading how you are able to
resolve the alignment issue. Regarding the mini SD card. When I tried to
take a picture the program froze on me. I talked to Meade and they said
I needed to use a better quality card although somehow my card worked
when I uploaded the firmware....go figure. I am hoping to resolve the
alignment before messing with the CCD camera.

Paul
Mike here: Odd about the card. I haven't purchased one yet. I wonder just what one I should get!
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Monday, August 17, 2009 19:17:58
From:	Andrew Ashworth (aja@manx.net)
I'm an ETX-105 owner - sadly not using it enough but that's more about
skies on the Isle of Man than my appetite or the product.  I've followed
your site for some years and have learned much about my 'scope and the
heavens from you and the others who post to or through you  your
commitment is as ever to be commended and is much appreciated.

Glad to see your move has also gone well and am envious of your
dedicated Skypod facility  I wish you the best of happiness in your new
home.

So pleasantries aside, to the point of this note....

I was/am still interested in the ETX-LS and in Meade generally.  Having
read your detailed 1st light experiences I expect I share your fear that
this could be yet another debacle for Meade if they don't get this to
work properly.  I've read their accounts with their restructuring plans
and it is so disappointing that their star product (sic) looks to be
suffering from some of the same old quality / functionality problems.

I can only hope they get themselves sorted  else I fear we'll all be
remembering the 'good old days' when Meade was a great optical co but
lost its way ...

Ah well, you can lead a horse to water but.....
 
Best regards
 
Andrew Ashworth
Mike here: I'm sure Meade will get it sorted out. They have apparently sorted out the LX90 problems I had (before they switched me to a LX200). There have been only a few reported problems with the ETX-LS like I experienced. I'm looking forward to getting a replacement soon.
Subject:	Macintoshes versus the ETX-LS
Sent:	Sunday, August 16, 2009 19:00:44
From:	richard seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
Just quickly reading your USB note, USB-A is the "command" end of a USB
hookup (so the scope may command some external device, such as a disk drive),
whereas USB-B is the "peripheral" end of a USB hookup... (so the scope
is commanded by the external PC.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Thanks for the clarification. I just assumed they were labeled A and B, top to bottom!

And:

Do the sockets both have the same -shape-?

USB-A is the flat wide connector
USB-B is the "monopoly house" shaped connector.

(and then there's dear old Apple... whose USB-A socket/cable
for their keyboards had an interfering ridge and slot...
you could use a standard USB-A/A cable for an Apple keyboard,
but you couldn't use an Apple keyboard "USB" cable for -anything- else,
not even as an extension cord for itself.
grump grump grump.... typical Apple...)

have fun
--dick (2500 miles from his Apples)
Mike here: They are shaped as you described.
Mike here: I have posted my initial comments about the ETX-LS 6" ACF on the Helpful Information: Buyer/New User Tips page.
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Monday, August 10, 2009 21:04:05
From:	Louis Welke (wwtpoper@yahoo.com)
I am beginning to see situations that may cause the ETX-LS to fail to
find alignment stars which then cause a failure for alignment.
It seemed that usually my first alignment star that my LS
slews to is Arcturus which is among the brightest stars in the sky
I receive a verbal message that "the telescope's CCD finder camera
is trying to find the alignment star" which tells me that unless the
alignment star is visible and not hidden by clouds I will receive a
verbal message that it could not find the star.
Arcturus has always been bright and in a clear part of the sky so
then a good alignment was made, but all the other stars that my LS
slewed to were very difficult to see by eyesight maybe because they
were behind some clouds so the CCD camera couldn't find  those
stars and so it failed to find that alignment star.
So the entire alignment procedure is dependent on the CCD camera.
Does this sound right to you ??

Lou Welke
Mike here: Since the concept and technology behind the "LS" model is to use the imager to "see" the alignment stars, yes, if the stars are not visible or not easily imaged due to light pollution or other factors, then the alignment would fail.

And:

Sent:	Wednesday, August 12, 2009 10:13:11
Heres hoping that you have your ETX-LS up and running and also you don't
have the problems I have with it.

I haven't seen anywhere in the LS reviews about alignment failures After
the scope slews and after several steps in the alignment it will then go
to another alignment star in my case the first star was Arcturus which
aligned right in the center of view after several steps it takes with
the CCD camera it then went to Izzar which seems to be below Arcturus
and a little to the right.

After several steps involving the CCD camera the last motion brought the
scope to where Izzar was right in the center of view, I then received a
message that Alignment failed and to try again.

How could alignment fail when the alignment star was in the center of
view?? I was still  able to call up Stars, Constellations, Planets, etc,
and the scope would slew to the general area but not to the individual
Star or Galaxy. However even with that a object in view would stay in
view for over a half hour until the tracking couldn't keep up.

It seems that even after alignment failure it will track objects you
slew to but not the way it should (The tracking is slower than the
objects movement) I really like this scope and the optics are first rate
but wonder if the electronics are out of kilter.

Louis Welke
Mike here: Not yet. Was out last night trying to view Perseid meteors! And today, working with a contractor at the house. I recall in the ETX-LS manual there was some info about aligning the imager to the telescope optics. Don't know if that will help you though.

And:

Thanks for the comeback so soon, I was also outside trying to view the
Perseid meteors but didn't see very much at all.
I will check out the manual about aligning the imager with the optics.
As always thanks for your help.

Louis Welke

Subject:	[none]
Sent:	Sunday, August 9, 2009 21:33:32
From:	yugugy kokl (sepallenivy03@yahoo.com)
Hi, I recently received my ETX-LS version 1.07 and turned it on the 1st
night. It went through Find Home and North and Mount Tilt. It then goes
to find stars like Arcturus and others, but it can never find them. I
read the manual and it suggested that I Train the Drive, but this option
does not show up in the AutoStar III menu. What do I do?!?!
Mike here: Just discovered your message in my SPAM folder as there was no subject line. PLEASE read the Email Etiquette on the ETX Site Home Page; thanks for understanding. When did you receive the ETX-LS (for the table I'm preparing)? As to training the drive, see Figure 6 in the manual as well as Appendix A.

And:

Hi, I received my ETX-LS on August 4th. As for the problems, you said go
to Autostar Menu Tree and Appendix A. My Autostar menu does not give me
the option to go to Setup then Telescope in order to train the drive.

Also under the calibrate menu, the manual says there should be a Smart
Drive, Finder Darks, and Finder Bias options, but these do not show up.
Mike here: You got yours the day before I received mine. Unfortunately, mine is still in the shipping boxes as I'm still unpacking and getting organized from my recent move. Your manual must be newer (or at least different) than the one I downloaded from Meade's web site. In Figure 6 of the PDF manual I only see three items under Calibrate: Azimuth Drive, Altitude Drive, and Finder Center. The first two items would be what you select to TRAIN DRIVES (terminology has changed for the ETX-LS models). I hope to unpack the ETX-LS later this week (with some luck).
Subject:	Your ETX site
Sent:	Friday, August 7, 2009 12:24:48
From:	Bellomy, Robert S. (ROBERT.S.BELLOMY@saic.com)
I am trying some different things with my ETX-LS, but still have
concerns about the GPS and the scope not being able to find stars.  A
few nights ago, the GPS located me in San Clemente rather than Redlands.
This occurred after I took the scope to the front yard where there are
not any large obstructions and the view of the night sky is much better.
Also, I have tried to use the SD card, but no joy.  I am planning on
packaging up the telescope this weekend and send it in to Meade.  I will
keep you updated on this issue.

Did you receive your LS ??
 
Robert Bellomy
Mike here: It is always possible that the GPS unit is bad. Got the ETX-LS. Hope to get it set up in a few days although unpacking and getting organized from the move still has priority!
Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Thursday, August 6, 2009 20:50:20
From:	Louis Welke (wwtpoper@yahoo.com)
Tonight I took out my ETX-LS  telescope and tried again to get it to do
what was advertised.

It is strange that it seems to get a GPS fix and after it goes through
several other functions and then it slews to Arcturus and  yes Arcturus
is in the viewing area it then goes through taking  pictures It then
slews to another star which does not show in the viewing area, It tries
to find the star but can't and tells me to retry. After all that I move
the telescope manually to a double star in the big dipper and it seems
to keep it in the viewing area for quite a long time as if it was
tracking it.

I have not taken any pictures yet even though the camera is active but
no SD card in the slot.

Be aware that a SD card in the slot may be tricky to get back out and if
left in there the telescope won't work the next time you power it up.

Lou Welke
Mike here: In my brief look through the PDF manual from Meade's site, I did see that the card should not be left in when the telescope is powered up. That seems to put it in the software update mode. I hope to get my ETX-LS unpacked in the next few days.

And:

I was very happy that you will be joining us as ETX-LS telescope users.

Instead of complaining about all the problems I have had with the LS
This time something went right.

On Thurs. 8-06 at about 10:30 Pm I activated my ETX -LS 'scope and the
first time it slewed to Arcturus (after going through  several other
steps) but when it tried to slew to Altair it couldn't find Altair it
then tried to slew to another star and failed again.

I then began using it manually and it seemed to track good for a long
time. I tried one more time to use it as advertised and had another
failure.

I then shut it down and went inside.

About 12:30 am 8-07 I went back out and activated my LS 'scope again and
after it slewed to several stars I received a message that there was a
power failure and it was saving and the 'scope froze up and I had to
turn it off and restart.

After it went through all the steps again and after slewing I received
the power fail message again.

This time I powered up the LS using my Celestron Power Tank that
supplies 12V output and after the LS went through the usual steps it
began slewing first to Vega and then to Altair and to another star about
40 degrees above the eastern horizon (maybe Aldebaran) I then looked
through the eyepiece and saw that third star almost in the center of
view then I received a message that I have a successful alignment and
proceed to explore the skies.

The Moon was in the SE part of the sky then and clouds were coming in
but when I told it to goto the Moon it placed it right in the center of
view. I noticed a bright object next to the Moon and figured it was
Jupiter and told it to goto Jupiter and it placed Jupiter almost in the
center of view and even though it was clouding up Jupiter looked very
good.

So all in all I had a successful session and this told me that there is
nothing wrong with my ETX-LS and it is the conditions at the time you
use your LS that cause a a success or fail.

Lou Welke
Mike here: Seems like the ETX-LS will eat batteries!

And:

Yeh you are right about eating batteries, I think I should have taken
them out when not using the ETX-LS

Lou

And:

I'll be waiting to hear about you using the ETX-LS, it's great that all
of us ETX-LS users can compare notes and help each other.

Lou

Mike here: If you are looking for a hard case for an ETX-LS, JMI has one now:
http://www.jimsmobile.com/buy_cases.htm#Meade_ETX-LS_6
Mike here: My ETX-LS 6" ACF is being shipped today from Meade!
Subject:	RE: Meade ETX-LS 6 ACF
Sent:	Monday, August 3, 2009 10:06:21
From:	Robert Bellomy (robert_bellomy@hotmail.com)
my autostar handheld controller  version says 1.07.  GPS appears to be
way off. This time it located me in SAN CLEMENTE VS REDLANDS. I WILL
COMPARE TO MY LX200R GPS.

Subject:	ETX-LS AutoStar III version
Sent:	Sunday, August 2, 2009 11:24:21
From:	Eddie Kennedy (steadye301@yahoo.com)
I was one of the first to receive an ETX-LS, mine lives up to it's
claims. My software version is 1.07 for the AutoStar III, on a positive
again mine works as advertised and I would advise anyone if the scope
doesn't work right just return it for one that does. I used my scope
last night (8/01/09) it was cloudy so the only thing I could look at was
the moon, the scope performed great at the image at 58x the 26mm that
came with it. I say to you that have problems with these scope just
return them and get one that works right.

The date was Wednesday 6/3/2009 I used it the same night I recieved it a
Balboa Park at the "stars in the park" star party. I am a member of San
Diego Astronomy Association sdaa.org.

From a satisfied Etx-Ls owner

Subject:	ETX-LS Feedback
Sent:	Saturday, August 1, 2009 16:47:20
From:	Dave Gmail (davidmhambly@gmail.com)
I was poking around looking for a site to review my initial
experiences with the ETX-LS ACF.  I found your site so I should let
you know that I am using version 1.07.  I was able to receive mine
on July 16th and was fortunate to be able to buy it on-line without
having pre-ordered it.  I have no astronomy experience, so I figured
this scope would help me learn the night sky.  I have not been
disappointed thus far.  I have used it in the countryside and at
home north of seattle - in a suburban setting.  It has autoaligned
each time properly, not counting the first attempt where a neighbors
bright light caused issues.  I have yet to use the SD slot - I
thought it truly was SD.  Looks like I will have to get the mini
card and adapter mentioned on your webpage.  So far, in my suburban
setting, I have gotten to see the ring nebula and dumbbell nebula. 
So I give Meade a thumbs up for a properly working scope.  I'll be
excited to see what it can do with better atmospheric conditions and
away from the city.
Thanks!
Dave

Feedback Archive

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Copyright © 2009 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
Submittals Copyright © 2009 by the Submitter
URL = http://www.weasner.com/etx/archive/aug09/etx-ls.html