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DS MODELS USER FEEDBACK
Last updated: 29 November 1999

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:	webmaster@aln.uwstout.edu (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:	kretschk@tcd.ie (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:  kretschk@tcd.ie
And 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:	wmbrady@olg.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:	meilingschiedam@yahoo.com (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:	meilingschiedam@yahoo.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, Netherlands
Mike 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:	smpriest@skybest.com (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 (smpriest@skybest.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:	jim_datec@yahoo.com (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 (jim_datec@yahoo.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:	wmbrady@olg.com ('wmbrady@olg.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:	wmbrady@olg.com (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).

DS Skirt

Bill Brady
1503-I Flanders Lane
Harwood MD 20776-9718
410/741-1917

wmbrady@olg.com (main email)
wmbrady@aol.com (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:	jim_datec@yahoo.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:	cidnee2@yahoo.com (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:	wmbrady@olg.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:	jim_datec@yahoo.com (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:	wmbrady@olg.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
wmbrady@olg.com (main email)
wmbrady@aol.com (spammers heaven)

Wm. "Bill" Brady, Harwood MD - Time out to put in the garden ...

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