DS MODELS USER FEEDBACK
This page is for user comments and information specific to the Meade DS telescope models. Accessories and Feedback items appropriate to the ETX models are posted on other pages as appropriate. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.
Mike here: As I consider turning "Weasner's Mighty ETX Site" into "Weasner's Massive Small Telescope Site" I have added this "DS Models User Feedback" page. Over the next couple of months I want to see how things go with this expansion, as well as with the Celestron NexStar5 and Meade ETX-125EC comparisons. If things go well, then beginning in 2000 a site expansion is likely to include coverage of all small telescopes, 5 inch or less (except "department store" telescopes) from any manufacturer, with the intention of providing the same level of support to all users as ETX users have experienced here for over three years. If things do not go well, then the site will stay dedicated to users of Meade ETX and DS telescopes.
Subject: #497 Autostar and DS models Sent: Monday, November 29, 1999 15:04:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter Tratechaud) I have been successfully using a 497 Autostar w/ my 127 DS model. Just thought I would add that... saw a question if it was possible or not and I can confirm it works very good as long as you have enough aperture to be able to see the fainter objects.
Subject: New mailing list for DS owners... Sent: Monday, November 29, 1999 13:13:03 From: A.T.Chambers@massey.ac.nz (Skrynnyk-Chambers, Andrew) Excellent site! Thank you for providing such a wide range of forums and information for such a diverse range of scopes. I'm wanting to get a new DS scope shortly but hankering for yet another outlet for discussion for us potential and existing DS owners I have set up a new mailing list on egroups.com If you could promote this information on your site it would be appreciated. Group Description: For the lovers of Meade Digital Series (DS) telescopes Group Name: Meade DS Group email addresses: Post a Message meade-ds@eGroups.com Subscribe to the list meade-ds-subscribe@eGroups.com Unsubscribe meade-ds-unsubscribe@eGroups.com Messages for List owner to: meade-ds-owner@eGroups.com For more information potential subscribers can view www.egroups.com/group/meade-ds/info.html The list is for the discussion of all issues relating to meade DS scopes. A companion web site will follow within the week... Regards from Down Under...
Subject: DS80EC Update Sent: Saturday, November 27, 1999 07:11:05 From: email@example.com (Kevin P. Kretsch) Re: Bill Brady's "motor unit fault" problems, DS feedback, 26th November '99. I had similar problems with my ETX90-EC, which were fixable. Assuming that the optical encoders are a part of the motor unit (and accessible), try giving them a very gentle clean. A soft (clean) lens brush wil do the job. If the encoder has a little dirt between the teeth on the wheel, then the autostar can't get consistent readings from it. How do the motors perform with the standard hand controller? If the telescope still slews, but 'misbehaves' occaisionally, the encoder is a good suspect. Of course, I had upgraded my Autostar (#497) from 1.0c to 1.1j, but I don't think software is an issue (though error handling routines may behave differently). Regards, and clear skies, Kev. - - - - - Kevin P. Kretsch B.A.(Mod.)Phys Photonic Materials Group, Department of Physics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, IRELAND. Tel: +353 1 608 1324 Fax: +353 1 671 1759 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgAnd a response:
Thanks for the feedback. If the motor unit has encoders, they are not accessable. (& shouldn't need cleaning on a new scope.) I finally got hold of Meade on the 6th try and they wanted me to send in the 495! I sent them the 495 AND the motor. Wm. "Bill" Brady, Harwood MD - Cleared the garden, all but the Chard & Garlic.
Subject: DS80EC Update Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 1999 04:51:48 From: email@example.com (Bill Brady) Howdy gang, Steves problem sounds like the "wrong direction" jump fixed in the Autostar 1.3c update. As you pointed out Mike, it's now available on Meades download site: http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html Be sure to get the version you need for the model AutoStar you have. I downloaded it and had no problems updating my AutoStar from my PC. No Mac version is yet available. A word of caution, this is a complete ROM load for the AutoStar microcomputer, any faults that occur can get you in a position where you cannot recover easily. I recommend using fresh batteries instead of the AC adapter during the load. My DS80EC is down. It began getting "motor unit faults" on long slews. That progressed to almost constant faults on any slew, and sometimes the AutoStar displays a "under construction" message. I have made four attempts to contact Meade directly with no response. (three telephone calls and one fax) over a week and a half. I contacted the seller, Pocono Mountain Optics who said that I would definitely be contacted by the end of the day. That was day before yesterday, still no results. The motor itself is the culprit, the fault swaps axes if I swap the motors. The fault happens even if the motor is completely discoupled from the mount (no load). One of the things I like about the DS is the modularity of the components. Its easy to swap out the motors. Of course if you can't get a replacement motor. Hopefully this problem of non communication is temporary because these are new products, or due to the holidays.
Subject: Re: DS-models & #497 ETX-autostar Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 23:02:17 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (M.J.P. M.) Thanks for the quick answer!, I found S&T put a review on their website and it mentioned the difference was the mount of objects (1400 vs 14000) and the price ($50).
Subject: DS-models & #497 ETX-autostar Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 12:40:55 From: email@example.com (M.J.P. M.) I've heard the DS-models have a specific autostar, not #497 from the ETX. Is this correct, and if so could I use the ETX autostar for a DS-scope or should I purchase the DS-model Autostar Kind regards Marco Meiling Van 't Hoffplein 9A Schiedam, NetherlandsMike here: I believe you can use the #497 Autostar with the DS series. But I couldn't find any definitive answer on Meade's product info on their web site. The only problem might be if the DS doesn't have the #492 motors.
Subject: DS 114 Auto star runaway. Sent: Saturday, November 20, 1999 20:09:19 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen A Miller) I have a DS 114 with the 497 ETX control. After Aligning the scope tracs for a while and then it will jump in Elevation or azmituh a 10 - 15 degrees. Any suggestions? I have installed the leather washers and re-balanced the tube. There is still a little play in the vertical axis. Please E-mail me any answers. Steve Miller (email@example.com)Mike here: I don't recall hearing about this with the Autostar. Perhaps it is something specific to the DS model.
Subject: DS 114 EC Scope Sent: Thursday, November 18, 1999 19:02:36 From: Rlport3@aol.com I recently purchased a Meade DS 114 EC Scope and thought some would like a quick critique. The scope was purchased without the autostar system, just the electric slow motion controls. It took me about 45 minutes to assemble, with no problems. The instruction manual could use a little work however. One rubber tip on the tripod leg was damaged and has already fallen off. Will call Meade for a replacement. Other wise the scope came in good condition, and the optics were in alignment. I was quite impressed with the scope on the first field test. At low power (36x) the view of the moon was quite impressive with razor sharp images. The sharpness of the moon only slightly degraded at (101x). It took no time to get used to the electric slow motion controls. The motors at slow slewing speeds were very quiet and not distracting. At the faster speed it was noticably louder but also not a problem. The tripod is sturdy but not of the highest quality. A deft touch was required when focusing, but the vibrations damped out very quickly. Next I checked out Vega. The star came to a sharp focus as a round sphere, again another good sign of quality optics. Jupiter was equally impressive. At low power (36X) two distinct cloud bands were visible, along with four moons, all of which I could not bring to a sharp focus. At (101x) some color appeared in the bands. In summary: I would not hesitate to recommend this scope. For the price it seems to be a very good deal. I have owned a Meade 6" reflector which could not exceed what I observed with the DS 114 EC. I do wonder if some of the plastic parts (which there are a lot of) will hold up over time. These parts do appear to be of high quality.
Subject: DS70EC scopes Sent: Friday, November 12, 1999 13:28:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim D) Great site, Mike! I purchased and received my DS70EC last week by mail order. All arrived in good condition, except for the sun hood being loose enough to fall off when first handled. I don't believe it was meant to be that way, as it fits snug but there seemed to be dried glue where it would be attached to the telescope tube. I will leave it as is though since I plan to travel with it and it will fit better in s suitcase (if I can detach the tube from the alt-az mount.) Assembly of the DS70 required about two-and-a-half hours in my hotel room ( working out of town ). With the help of good lighting and a magnetized screw driver it could have been 15-minutes shorter. It is an impressive little 'scope once it's all together. I haven't had the free time yet to hook up and train the Autostar ( and it's owner!). There is no balancing act "necessary" with the DS70 since the tube has no rings and cannot be moved with respect to the mount except to be pointed up or down. It attaches to the mount directly on the sides as does the Tasco 50mm and 60mm scopes. I suppose that means that if it needs balancing another method has to be used with some kind of weights that can be attached to the upper end of the tube. I have seen Dobsonian scopes using bean bags with velcro type strips which can be placed on the 'scope wherever needed. Down the road I hope to get the DS127EC and switch between using my C-5 and the 5" reflector tube that comes with it. In between that and getting the ETX125EC I will have to wait and see how the reviews treat both systems. Regards - Jim (email@example.com) ===== Keep looking up - Leonids soon!! _
Subject: DS series scopes Sent: Tuesday, November 9, 1999 06:42:39 From: Ken.George@COMPAQ.com (George, Ken) To: firstname.lastname@example.org ('email@example.com') Bill, I recently wrote you concerning the DS114EC (which I have not been able to purchase as of yet) and had a couple of more questions for you. #1, Since it appears that appature wins out over everything else, which would be the better scope to buy - the DS90EC refractor or the DS114EC reflector? I am interested in doing both planetary and DeepSky observing. Also, do you happen to know whether Meade is going to produce a 6" version of the DS series? (I am copying Mike for any comments on Meades future plans...) Thanks and clear skys...
Subject: DS80EC Summary of my Experiences Sent: Tuesday, November 2, 1999 04:28:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Brady) In my previous write ups, I have detailed what I did and what happened when I got my DS80EC Refractor Telescope from Meade. I have not intended to discourage any ones interest. I created this report because the DS Meade series is new, not only as a product line, but as a concept: a telescope designed from the ground up for full computer GOTO control. There was no information available, and there can be problems with new systems. There only two areas where you may want to take action to improve the scope hardware, and one procedural change in the way you set it up. First, there is a tendency for the cables hang on the tops of the tripod legs. This can be fixed with a short piece of plastic tubing arranged in a ring so that the cables can't fall into the slots formed by the tripod legs and the mount. The second problem is vertical clutch slippage. If there is any slippage in either clutch, the star alignment must be repeated. (Alignment is the procedure of fine pointing to bright stars that you do during setup so that the computer has a more accurate fix on the coordinates of all stars). The vertical clutch/motor has a much tougher job than the azimuth. When you balance the scope according to the manual (Horizontal) it is actually at the end of its swing, so moving it at all moves it further and further away from balance. If you've ever been on a see-saw you know that when one person goes down (the eyepiece end) that person can easily keep the other end from coming back down. (ie: an alt-az mount becomes unbalanced when near zenith). The end result is that each time you "come down" from near zenith, the altitude clutch has its worse load and sometimes slips. So, first, raise the tube to at least 45 degrees (instead of horizontal) when you balance it. Balance it with your heaviest eyepiece installed. I tip the scope up to what I think is balanced then alternately tap it one direction then the other. When it starts to fall in either direction, I catch it with the other hand. I look for the same rate of fall either way. Second, I cut a washer out of an old leather belt or shoes. I used an ear washer as a template. It's not pretty but it works to provide much more positive clutch action, and has less of a tendency to slip if oil gets on it. I installed it in between the outside ear washer and the ring gear. You will become familiar with these parts since you have to assemble them when you get the 'scope. The last two nights I have gotten 2-star alignments on the first try. The alignment held all night (4-6 hrs), and the scope parked dead on at the end of the session. Very heavy eyepieces (my Celestron 40mm) move the scope off the target slightly, but do not cause loss of alignment. Meade has done an excellent job of creating this system. The early hardware looks as if it could use some enhancement in these two areas and the balancing procedure could be rewritten. The AutoStar software is excellent. If you are worried about the GOTO ability interfering with your learning the stars, don't. This scope can teach you in your living room on a stormy night. Here's a photo of the anti-fouling "skirt" mentioned earlier (down this page). Bill Brady 1503-I Flanders Lane Harwood MD 20776-9718 410/741-1917 email@example.com (main email) firstname.lastname@example.org (spammers heaven) Wm. "Bill" Brady, Harwood MD - Time to clear the garden.
Subject: Autostar and EC controllers Sent: Monday, November 1, 1999 16:42:02 From: email@example.com (Jim D) What a useful site! Great job Mike and all who contribute. WmBrady ( Bill okay?) mentioned that a controller is needed for the DS series to talk with a computer so I was wondering if the controller that comes with the DS60EC or DS70EC ( you mentioned a 492 ) would permit communication with a PC - or is it necessary to get the 495 or 497 to run astro programs through these scopes? Thanks Jim
Subject: telescopes Sent: Monday, November 1, 1999 16:02:48 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (cidny) Hi. I saw your webpage under telescopes and was hoping you could tell me if the following is a good deal or a decent telescope: meade autostar computer controlled telescope polaris 60mm diameter (f/11), 700mm focal length altazimuth refractor, 3 eyepieces, 3x barlow lens, 5 24 finderscope, adjustable aluminum tripod. 399.95 as you've probably guessed, i know nothing about them and would greatly appreciate your input on this. it is a gift for someone who never used a telescope. Thanks in advance, c
Subject: More DS80EC notes "Scope on a String" Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 1999 20:56:10 From: email@example.com (Bill Brady) It turns out that the string technique mentioned earlier is more useful than I thought. I had forgotten (or wasn't paying attention) that an Alt/Az mount is balanced only when it is level. As it goes higher, it becomes more and more unbalanced. This results in situations where you can not accurately slew back from a near zenith Alt. position. I have come to the conclusion that training must be done at a fairly high elevation (50-60 deg.), which is difficult when using "terrestrial objects". Its hard to find something that high a quarter mile away. This is where the string comes in. I explained earlier how you could rig a string to use to determine if your training has worked. I mentioned that I thought the string method could be used to train. It works, I've done it. The big advantage is that you can train at *any* Az/El with the string. However, you must be very careful to observe the distance between the end of the string and the target (planisphere, in my case). I raised the planisphere off the floor with a cardboard box. This allowed me to get my eye on the plane of the target. I also suggest that you balance the scope at a 45 deg angle rather than level, and keep a heavier eyepiece in the diagonal. Today marks the end of two weeks with my DS80. I feel that tonight I am getting results of the kind I want. There is a way to go, however.
Subject: Autostar/EC/Computer question. Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 1999 14:07:48 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim D) Thanks again for your informative and helpful response regarding my questions on the DS mount and EC/Autostar setup. Here are two questions that may not have been asked that I would like answered and that may be of interest to others: Is the Autostar #495 also upgradeable via downlaods?? I have read in your mail and on others that the only difference is the size of the database yet I keep seeing references to the #497 about tracking and computer downloads. Even on the #495 and #497 boxes there is no mention of download capability or computer hookup - unless I missed it. The boxes have the description and requirements written in 4 languages! Does the software that accompanies the scope (DS60EC) have "GOTO" and /or Tracking capability without the Autostar attached? In other words, can a cable and computer with the right software replace the Autostar? Much thanks. I am still "researching your site for other information. So much information and so little time!!! Jim
Subject: DS80EC Sent: Monday, October 25, 1999 10:36:08 From: email@example.com (Bill Brady) The DS80EC arrived on October 13 1999, a warm bright day when I was sitting in the front yard enjoying my Canon 12x36 IS binoculars recently serving as my "telescope". I decided to go ahead and assemble the DS80 right then and there. It took me about 2 1/2 hours. It was more work than I had anticipated. In particular, I had a difficult time mounting the motors. The connection is similar to connecting a (very large) garden hose of the type where the coupler is loose on the hose end until tightened. I had a hard time determining when the coupling ring was started correctly and not cross threaded (after the first time it becomes much easier). I also had some difficulty attaching the Vertical Control Unit, W4, (I call it the worm gear housing) to the vertical bearing with the three small screws. For the horizontal you must lay the mount on its side. (This came back to bite me later). I was much impressed at the simplicity and ruggedness of the design. The shaft is 1/2 diameter, as big as some car axle ends that I've seen! As a retired systems engineer, I felt that the modularity of the system showed good design practice. For example, you can replace a motor in seconds, and with no tools! I later found that (with the AutoStar) this is truly a well designed system, not just a telescope. After assembly, I proceeded to train the system using a TV antenna for a target. I spent some time observing terrestrial targets, noting the stitches in the US flag displayed by a neighbor a block away. I also zeroed in the 6x30 finder. Using the glancing light test, (looking at the coating) I noted a purple and green cast. A sign of multi-coating. The whole scope weighs only 14 lbs, well within my 25 lb Doctor imposed limit, yet the mount seems very steady to me. (The Doc never said anything about finder scopes.) That night I homed the scope using a level and a compass, and selected Easy Alignment. The first star was Altair. I couldnt center it! I simply could not get my eye into position to look through the finder. I tried to do both Easy and one-star aligns, a total of about 20 times. No success. I experienced numerous cable hang ups, most were when the cable got caught in-between the top edge of the tripod leg and the mount. The design here presents a V, a very effective cable catch. I then spent 2 days with the system in my living room. I realized that the cables likely had caught more times than I realized in the dark the night before. I felt that this was a first priority problem. My first attempt to prevent the cable snags was to cut out the center of a couple of paper plates. I made a diagonal slit in the resulting down turned ring, or skirt, slipped it over the fork and taped the slit closed with scotch tape. The paper plate eliminated most of the hangs, but would occasionally a cable spiral would catch the bottom of the skirt and flip it up. My second skirt consisted of a piece of non-toxic clear tubing and a short section of dowel. I used 1/2 inch inside, 3/4 inch outside tubing cut to a length that circles the base of the fork with a little left over. I found a dowel that fit the inside of the tubing and cut off about 2 inches. I shoved the dowel into one end of the tubing, looped it around, and shoved the rest of the dowel into the other end. The end result was a ring where the dowel formed the connector, closing the ring. In place, the ring obscures the AZ scale, but it works. I had very few hangs, and rarely in the V mentioned above. I later tried 1 inch ID tubing, but it was too big and had a tendency to flatten. I now use the next size up from the original 1/2 inch ID. I expected that a GOTO system of this type might spoil me, or curtail my education, but just the opposite occurred. I spent several days just slewing around my living room. I learned more about the celestial sphere in these few hours then all of my previous observations, use of several excellent star tracker computer programs, and planispheres. Its like having a personal guide who quickly points out the direction of any celestial object. I discovered that the DS80EC/AutoStar was indeed a well designed and executed system. The requirements have been well allocated between the operator, the hardware and the software. My second outing was unsuccessful also. I just could not get the Alignment star in the eyepiece. I always seemed to end up with 2 stars in the finder scope, and was unable to determine which was the target. I still had difficulty getting my head in a position to look through the finder scope. This was especially true of the stars picked by the computer for Easy Alignment, they tend to be high (near zenith), making the finder low. I could not bend low enough, and sitting on the ground I was too far away from the finder eyepiece. To help with these problems, I ordered an observers chair (instantly adjustable from 9 to 27 inches high) and a Scopetronics red dot finder. I became aware of the motor sounds. They seemed to be getting louder at this point, and somewhat varied in pitch. I believed this to be the computer tweaking the motor speed but found later that I was wrong. During the next down time, I closely examined the scope mechanically. I realized two things: the clutches slipped very easily and two, there was free play in both axes of the mount. I knew that no computer program could compensate for either of these, there is simply no feedback to the computer. I also discovered that balancing the mount is both more important and more difficult then I expected. If had any clutch slippage in Elevation at all, it would show up more when the heavier end was raised. As for the balancing procedure itself, I find it difficult to find the balance point, slight drag in the bearings tends to keep the tube/mount in whatever position I put it rather than tilting up or down by gravity. I disassembled both clutches. I saw quite a bit of yellow metal debris on the worm gear. This did not bother me as I figured it was normal for new parts, but I decided to follow the suggestions in ETX Tune Up (written by Jordan Blessing, available at the Scopetronics web site). Wear patterns on the ear washers showed that they were contacting the ring gear over a very small portion of their surface. I decided to lap them just a tad on my diamond EZ-lap. This quadrupled the surface contact area. I applied a small amount of high vacuum grease with a toothpick (mistake) to the ring gear teeth, and reassembled. The clutches slipped more than ever, no matter how tight I torqued the lock knobs. I realized that, although my lapping had removed very little material, the lock knobs were bottoming. The closed end of the lock knob was contacting the end of the shaft before sufficient pressure was exerted. I put both wavy spring washers on one shaft. The extra thickness and doubled spring resistance did the trick, but I only had two spring washers. I went to the Hardware store and could not find that type of spring washer, so I bought two perfectly sized brass washers about 1/10 of a inch thick. I put these inside the wavy spring washers, against the outside key washer. Feeling that I had the power with that extra tenth, I lapped the ear washers increasing the contact area even more. This time I also lapped the ring gears. I turned my attention to the free play. I found that I could move the telescope with the clutches locked by 1 inch. When I let go, the OTA would remain where I had pushed it, It did not spring back. The setup manual tells how to adjust this free play out by tightening the 11mm lock nut on the end of the worm shaft. This procedure works fine, I had to repeat it several times during the break-in. Back to the field. The red dot finder was not a solution, I still could not get the target in the finder, never mind the eyepiece. I just could not get my head in the right place! I let the system go through an easy alignment without attempting to center the target. I did observe Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon. I saw very fine images, lots of snap. In the 70s, I had a cheap Tasco and a 3.5 inch (I think) Questar, both second hand. I could see more with the Questar, but always preferred the image through the Tasco. In the intervening years, I realized that I preferred the refractor. (Which is why I bought a DS80EC instead of an ETX.) This scope, based on the image presented, has the snap I want. I ordered an Meade ETX right angle finder scope. When it arrived I realized that it was too short to fit in the 6x30s rings. I rigged an extension using two quarter sections of 1 1/4 inch PVC pipe at the back, and two popsicle sticks at the front. The PVC compensates for the smaller diameter tube at the rear, and the popsicle sticks contact the ring adjustment screws just in front of scope. Back to the field. Got my first successful alignment! The right angle 8x25 ETX finder worked liked a charm. Yes, stars are a blur near the edge of the FOV, but I found this helped! I can now identify the target. The de-focused image makes judging relative brightness a snap. (The image is sharp in the center portion of the finder field.) The observers chair helps immensely, although I wish it were lighter weight. I got a good alignment and did quite a bit of observing, but I found that I needed to re-align several times. The provision of a straight through finder is a system design flaw, even a poor right angle finder is better for alignment, and after that, you dont need a finder. Another problem cropped up at this point. I was observing the Moon. I manually slewed from the top to the bottom of the disk. After about 5 seconds, the computer would slew some more, or it would slew back in the original direction but over shoot. In other words, it appeared to help me, or fight me. With help from Mike (our Web host) I realized that I was not waiting for the GOTO slew to complete. I cannot hear the beep. (I have hearing loss in a very narrow band in each ear, the beeper frequency must lie in that band). I was assuming that the system was ready when the word SLEWING... went away. But the beep actually occurs about 12 seconds after this. A software design flaw. The word SLEWING... Should not go away until slewing is complete or better yet, it should be replaced by the word TRACKING when the system is tracking. Still getting slippage, still dont like the variations in the pitch of the motors while slewing. I tore down both axes, and immediately noticed that some grease had gotten on the ear washers, not enough to see, but I could feel it. This time I put all the parts in very hot water with a small amount of liquid soap. After removing each from the water, I sprayed them with contact cleaner. I have two types of contact cleaner, one contains oil, the other leaves no residue, I used the latter. I carefully applied lithium grease with a paint brush this time. I paid particular attention to the worm gear bearings, and applied a very thin coat to the worm gear itself. Of course, I had to re-adjust the worm gear lock nut. At this point, I discovered that the Horizontal Control Unit (worm gear housing) was loose! I had to re-tighten the three small screws that hold it to the Horizontal bearing. Each required about 5 turns. Obviously the original torquing feedback had felt some kind of false bottom. NOTE: I believe that any time you adjust either of the two worm gear adjustments, the 11mm nut or the bearing offset set screw, you must re train the telescope. Success! The free-play is gone and the motors now purr like a kitten. (Note that most of my indoor observing was done on an 800 ma AC adapter [RS 273-1667 muti-volt.) Slippage now occurs only on major hang-ups (like when the Star Diagonal hits the handle on my wood stove.) Stuck indoors for a few days due to rain, I did more systems analysis. I positioned the scope and slewed to Polaris, then I dropped a string from the bottom lip of the dewcap to the floor. I wrapped a small amount of tape (shrink tubing would be better) around the bottom end, making kind of a shoelace tip. I then laid a Whitneys Star finder (planisphere) flat on the floor so the rivet was aligned with the bottom of the string. I trimmed the end of the string with a cane cutter so it just cleared the eye rivet of the Star Finder. With the string on, I found that I could slew down and to the left (Jupiter) and return to Polaris and the string tip would end up within 1/4 inch of the previous position. Slewing up and too the right (Vega), then back to Polaris resulted in large errors in altitude. Some times the end of the string would end up about 2 inches above the Star Finder, although pointing at the rivet. Repeated sequences (Polaris-Jupiter-Vega-Polaris) showed that the error magnitude was consistent. This means TRAINING. (I subsequently came to believe that a miss of more than that, say 4 or 5 inches or random error magnitude is slippage.) Working in the string mode, I discovered three more things of value. First, I dont have to actually do a GOTO Jupiter or Vega. While on Polaris, I just tap which ever arrow key to slew the scope in the direction I want to test, then, with Polaris still showing in the AutoStar, hit GOTO. Secondly, I discovered that I can train while in the string mode. (BTW, I now use a long bead chain instead of a string, that way I can keep my ceiling fan on [low].) Thirdly I found that training is somewhat cumulative in that the initial off-slew can be too short in one direction if a bad train has preceded. In other words, the first training gets the software into the ball park, clear of end limits, and in a better starting position. Even so, the system seems to be more accurate or less depending on the direction of slew. For example, it hits the target better when going up than coming down. The difference is less than a 1/16 inch in the string end position, but it may be worth remembering that if you goto an object, then push the UP button, re-GOTO youll end up closer. Other notes: The Dew Cap had a crack out of the box. Meade replaced it quickly with only a phone call on my part. The battery holder was missing a spring, but I had a spare. The rubber feet kept coming off so I glued them on, but one came off anyway and is now lost. I put a small tubing plug on the foot and taped it in place with plastic electrical tape. (The bright orange color inspired me to tape the two other feet as well.) Conclusions & Opinion regarding the Meade DS80EC. This is a superbly integrated system. The software is well designed and integrated with the hardware, and both require only a minimum from the operator. I would not call this system a telescope, it is much more, I would perhaps call it an observatory. Not only does it find things for you, but it tells you much about each object (via scrolling text in the AutoStar screen), it is as useful and entertaining inside the house as in the field. The on-line object information and instructions are on a par with much more expensive systems that I have worked. Ill leave it to others to assess the optical performance, Id love to see a review in that area. The tops of the tripod legs should be re-designed to prevent the formation of the V which so effectively snags the cables, or perhaps a skirt such as described above could be provided. In the 1970s AZ-EL mounts were considered junk. Only equatorial mounts could reasobably be clock motor driven. And due to the multiple axes of the EQ mount, and the fact that shafts are hung from shafts, they must be very well built and heavy for stability. The DS80EC/AutuStar system allows the use of a less expensive, lighter, but inheritantly more stable AZ-EL mount. It also gives me the benefit of easy terrestrial use! In other words, having effective computer control of an AZ-EL mount does much more for me than just pointing the telescope or finding objects. This combination of this computer/mount would work with a much larger scope. Ive got my eye on a 100mm russian... I recommend that anyone starting out with any of the DS/AutoStar series work with INDOORS for about 10 hours before going to the field. This way you will better learn the software and break in the clutch parts. I suspect that it may always be necessary to tune the clutches after break in. If you have a DS or are thinking about buying one, drop me a line. If you just want to kibbitz, I have a big bit bucket (computer guys term for Black Hole). I bought a toy, I got a very useable system! It gives me an excuse for those afternoon naps, I think Ill keep it. Bill Brady (the first person to *ever* see Cygnus X-1, not that I knew what it was at the time). Harwood MD 38-49 N, 076 41W 410/741-1917 fax 410/741-9508 firstname.lastname@example.org (main email) email@example.com (spammers heaven) Wm. "Bill" Brady, Harwood MD - Time out to put in the garden ...
Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the DS Models Feedback pages.
Return to the top of this page.
Go to the ETX Home Page.