ETX USER FEEDBACK - APRIL-MAY 1997
Many ETX users have written to me; here are some of their comments.
See the ETX Feedback Page for current comments.
Sent: Saturday, May 31, 1997 06:39:17 From: Moss5809@aol.com Hi, I am new to astronomy and the ETX is my first telescope.I like the ETX overall but there are a couple of questions I would like to put to someone who has used and experimented with there ETX. I would like to put a view vinder on it that is functional.I have read about the 1X type like the one from Orion and Rigel.I am considering one of these but have no idea which one works best. Maybe there are other alternatives? I would also like to add more eyepieces.If anyone has opinons from their experience with different eyepieces, I would like to hear your opinons. Thanks, Randy email@example.com
Sent: Friday, May 30, 1997 11:56:14 From: RafeM@aol.com Hi Mike Thanks for your excellent presentations on the ETX. A few nights ago the catastrophe occurred. Stumbled in the dark over a newly placed there metal plant stand (black metal, no plants on it), invisible in the dark, (ok so I had turned the lights off to up my night-vision), andf stumbled and down went the ETX on it's bogen tripod. Fork mounting snapped and spotting scope broke off. I've removed the tube which sits on the tripod again minus fork mounting, astronimcal base etc. Collimation may be out though from that big bang but it focuses fine right now at least on all daylight visible events and things (cloudy nights haven't given me a chance to see how it does otherise). All seems quite repairable. The broken off fork refits with barely a hairline showing. Spotter scope similar. So, my dumb question is -- any idea from anyone on the best kind of glue to restick this all together? And has this yet happened to anyone else? All best rafe martin
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 1997 13:45:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Adolfo Viana) i've using my ETX, and i've decided that using it near equator coul be dificult in RA-DEC so i started to using it with the AZ-ALT readings, that i get from any astronomical program, if you set the scope well nivelated and set the ALT reading to zero, then the escale is enough acurated to get the escope to the rigth value, then if you know your place NSWE direcctions is very easy to find the rigth AZ clear skyes Adolfo Viana Bogota, Colombia email@example.com
Sent: Sunday, May 25, 1997 07:38:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Price) Now that I've had a chance to experiment a bit more with my ETX and take advantage of some better seeing conditions, I have a few more things to contribute here:  On my ETX as received, the left and right DEC setting circles differed by nearly a degree in their readings. This is easy enough to correct by unscrewing the setting circle cover a little and moving the circle to read correctly. The trick is to find the correct setting. To do this, set the scope's DEC for what appears to be 90 degrees and then tilt the whole ETX so that there is some object, Polaris or anything else, in the eyepiece. If the object moves when the scope is rotated in RA, use the DEC slow motion control to adjust it so the object stays in the center of the field when the scope is rotated in RA. At this point the scope is exactly at 90 degrees declination and the setting circles can now be adjusted to show this and agree with each other. I'd recommend that all ETX owners check this out, as it may be that the factory wasn't all that careful when calibrating them.  I bought the ETX field tripod advertised by Shutan for $149 and can recommend it highly. It's a Bogen 3211 with a 3130 micro-fluid head and is very solid and easy to adjust. Orginally Shutan was supplying the slightly cheaper 3030 head with this but they found that the 3130 was smoother for polar aligning the ETX. The ultimate tripod head for the ETX would be the Bogen 3275 mini geared head, which is worm gear-driven on all three axes with no clamps needed. That would run $137 as opposed to $56 for the 3130 but might be worth it if the ETX were going to be used a lot for astrophotography requiring precise polar alignment.  Now that I have a good tripod, I've refined my ETX setup procedure for regular viewing that gives me a adequate polar alignment in less than 5 minutes and doesn't depend on Polaris. Using a handheld magnetic compass and correcting for the local variation, I rotate the tripod head so that it will tilt toward true North and lock the rotating axis. I set and lock the ETX DEC to my latitude, then rotate the ETX in RA and tilt the tripod head toward North until the scope tube is pointing straight up. Then I lay a small spirit level across the lens cap, parallel to the DEC axis, rotate the fork in RA until the bubble centers and then lock the ETX in RA. Then I turn the level so that it's perpendicular to the DEC axis and adjust the tripod tilt to center the bubble again. Now the ETX is ready to use and should track well enough for any ordinary viewing or even short photo exposure times. The best thing about this procedure is that it doesn't depend on using Polaris, which can be VERY difficult since the finder is impossible to use with the ETX at 90 degrees DEC.  The ETX owner's manual gives a procedure for using the setting circles to star-hop from one object to another. This works fine only if you use the upper RA setting circle if you're in the Northern hemisphere. It won't work if you use the lower setting circle that the manual says you should use for the Northern hemisphere. That would seem to be an obvious error in the manual. That's about it for now. I hope to contribute more in future after I get a chance to look at some deep sky objects now that we're past the full Moon. regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Monday, May 19, 1997 23:22:29 From: email@example.com (Me) Hi. I am a new amatuer astronomer and recently purchased an ETX. I like it, but find the viewfinder difficult to use after polar aligning. Do you know of a good replacement view finder for the ETX. I would appreciate any help. Thank you Dan Avis
Mike here: The Orion EZ Finder seems to a popular replacement for many telescopes including the ETX. Check out my ETX Accessories - Finders web page for a brief user comment as well as the Feedback pages.
Sent: Monday, May 19, 1997 18:19:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Anthony N. Speca) I am thinking about purchasing a Meade ETX. I came upon your web site and read through the Archives here and the ones posted at http://metxug.elendil.com/index.html. When I tried to join the latter my email was returned. Are they still operating? While I have your attention perhaps you can answer a few questions. From the archives there seemed to be a flurry of ETX activity last summer - fall but not so much now. Has the popularity of the ETX dropped? Quality of the telescopes drive system was thought by almost all to be very low. Has Meade done anything to improve it since then? Also the order back log was very long. Has it shortened now? One reason for purchasing the scope is to photograph my first total eclipse from Aruba in Feb 1998. Any comments or advice you can give to me in this regard is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. And thanks for all the effort you put into the weg page. I learned a lot about the ETX in a short period of time. Tony
Mike here: I haven't seen anything from the ETX User Group at all other than their web page. The activity on my ETX Feedback pages has definitely picked up this year. Of course, last year the telescope and my web pages were new so the activity was from new and potential users. But now the activity is coming from frequent visitors and the occasional new buyers. I doubt that the popularity has dropped. As to quality of the drive mechanism, it is probably normal for a $595 telescope with such high quality optics. If you want a better drive in the same size package you go for a 3.5" Questar but pay $2000+. And yes, many stores are apparently experiencing supply problems. Meade can't seem to make them fast enough! For the Solar Eclipse just be certain to use the proper protection for the telescope and your eyes. Except for close-ups of the sun's edge, I would expect that most pictures will be taken from Prime Focus. If you want more of the corona you will probably not even use the ETX. And thanks for the praise! I'm glad you have found the pages useful. I'm learning a lot from others as well!
Sent: Monday, May 19, 1997 07:56:22 From: email@example.com (Tom Price) I'm a new ETX owner (just a week now) and have enjoyed reading all the information at this great website, especially all the useful feedback comments. So far I've only had a couple of decent viewing nights here in Rhode Island but I can say that the optical performance of the ETX is really superb, much better than I remember from my old RV-6 Dynascope which I finally sold back in 1970. Based on a feedback message that I saw here, I've ordered the Bogen 3211/3030 tripod/head combination from Shutan, which I hope will overcome the principal shortcoming of the ETX, the necessity to haul around a solid table from place to place in order to use it. Another shortcoming is the frequently-mentioned inadequate finder that comes with the ETX, which I'll correct with the Orion EZ Finder, currently backordered from Orion. I've experienced no problems with the ETX drive and I've managed to minimize the engaging delay by applying a very slight counter-clockwise pressure on the R.A. slow motion knob while simultaneously engaging the tracking lock. This seems to take up the backlash. All of this assumes that the drive already has been turned on for a few minutes. In a message from Leigh Daniels (firstname.lastname@example.org) outlining a polar alignment method for the ETX, there is one small error in an otherwise very useful procedure. She says "3. Set and lock your ETX to a declination that equals your co-latitude...". This seems to be incorrect; the procedure works perfectly if the ETX declination setting circle is set to your latitude, not the co-latitude. Her statement would be correct if the spirit level were to placed along the OTA tube rather than the lens cap. Once my tripod arrives I plan to try some prime focus SLR photography with the ETX. regards, Tom email@example.com
Sent: Monday, May 19, 1997 04:09:05 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Wayne R Fagerberg) I have a Meade refractor (390) and have had some big quality control problems with it just as some of your respondents seem to have had with the etx. I will check it carefully before I accept it. I don't know why Meade is not concerned with these problems their rep is suffering. again thanks and happy viewing. Wayne
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 1997 19:33:04 From: email@example.com (mhar) Mike: I have used a focal reducer that I bought from Orion Telescope Center on my ETX and it worked out ok. I took some photos of the comet with the reducer but I do not have them scanned yet. I will be trying my hand at some deep space shots in the future and if they are good, I will send them. I am thinking about buying a scanner but I have not made up my mind on what kind yet. Do you know if a good scanner can be had for less than 400.00, much less I hope? Thanks Max
Sent: Saturday, May 17, 1997 06:25:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joe Bryan) You would think I was looking for the Holy Grail! I have called every place in Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines. No one has Meade ETX's or when I do call as in yesterdays case they just sold there last 2 units. I have a brand new Celestron Celstar 8 "4 days old" and I need something more portable thats why I have been on this "Quest" for a Meade ETX. The Celstar is about 400.00 more than an ETX, but I would gladly trade it for an ETX. I even called Meade direct they were no help at all. I have found used ETX's on the web but then people won't respond to my e-mail or maybe they just changed there mind about selling. This must be the greatest telescope in the history of mankind. Later: I hit paydirt and found an ETX, got it for 550.00. He has had it 2 months. Now I just need to sell my Celestron Celstar 8. Brand new in box can ship anywhere next day air for free. Scope is 6 days old. 950.00. A Little Later: Sold my Celestron within 24 hours of posting my add, got my asking price of 950.00 also, buy the way did I tell you I got my ETX like new for 550.00. Also I am going to start doing astrophotography with it I will send photos when I get some. Thanks Joe.
Sent: Saturday, May 17, 1997 12:17:09 From: email@example.com (Venik) I have some experience in photography, however, very little practice with telescopes. I occasionally use my 12" Newtonian, unfortunately, due to its large size and a very unstable mounting, this does not happen very often. How stable is ETX? I am planning to attach a large Pentax camera (weights about 650g) - will the telescope be able to support it? What kind of astronomical software would you recommend? My first photos I am sending to you:-)
Mike here: The ETX certainly will not be as good as a larger aperature telescope for astrophotography. Also, the drive is not that great for long duration photos (see my deep sky gallery web page). The ETX is probably stable enough for the Pentax for eyepiece projection but may become a little unstable if you put a large format camera at prime focus.
Sent: Friday, May 16, 1997 05:25:31 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (wayne fagerberg) Michael, you've done a great job with the web page on the ETX. I am still waiting for mine. Have you thought about using a 2X or 3X teleconverter at prime focus-- can it be done? What is the mag at prime focuse, no one I talk to seems to be able to give a good answer. Also, do you have a cause for the streaking in you photos of Orion nebula? Was it the tracking system? Keep up the good work
Mike here: Thanks for the praise. As to the magnification at prime focus: if you assume that a "normal" SLR lens of 50mm is 1x, then the 1250mm ETX would be 25x. Don't know about using a teleconvertor at PF. Maybe someone else will comment after I post your inquiry on Sunday. As to the trailing, I plan to do a lot more testing but haven't had time. I've been traveling too much and when I've been home, it has been cloudy! My initial impression is that the drive jerks at some point. I plan to do some longer exposures to see if that shows anything.
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 1997 15:54:56 From: email@example.com (Hank Trepp) Hi Mike.. I am wondering what type of Bogan mount would you think might meet the needs of the ETX? I'm looking at buying and yes they are costly and to think the tripod doesn't come with a mount!! From what I'm reading the heavy duty Bogan Tripod would be the best bet.. But nothing was said about the mount? HELP! Also to Cliff Newman that EZ finder scope sounds like a winner to me! What type of mount did he use? Dove tail or the mounting Bracket for the Schmidt-Cass.? Here's a tip! When storing my ETX I place in the mount for the eye piece a 35 mm film can Plastic (Kodak) It works great.. Also in the 45 degree erecting prism use the 35mm film can there also.. Will help prevent STUFF from falling into the scope. Hank Trepp May your days be great.. But, your night skys wonderful!
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 1997 07:25:47 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (robie house) Mike I appreciate all the info about scopes on your web page I initially found it by searching yahoo. I have been interested in the ETX for several months but didn't know much about the scope other than what was in the catalog. This will be my first scope and I want to make a good decision. Portability and quality are main requirements. Like other comments I have read on your page from other users my other consideration is the ranger scope. Reading the comments from other users has given me the info to make a good decision and awareness what to expect if I do purchase the ETX. thanks rob
Sent: Saturday, May 10, 1997 14:47:48 From: Bidwell@snet.net (T Bidwell) I'm seriously considering purchasing the ETX. I live in CT and have access to fairly dark skies both here in the Northeast and my hometown of Lynchburg, VA. I'm interested in any advice you can give me in regards to the ETX. Please reference both it's optical performance and portability. I'm looking for a telescope that is ultra portable yet offers good views of the moon, planets, etc...As a previous owner of the Meade 2045, I can't help but wonder how do they compare? If you do recommend the ETX, what accessories do you recommend I buy? Your Web page was a welcome site due to the little, if non existant, reviews of the ETX other than Meade's reviews. (It was great to have a non biased, honest opinion.) As a fellow avid astronomer thanks for any advice and your time. Sincerely, Ray (c/o Todd Bidwell)<
Sent: Friday, May 9, 1997 06:08:02 From: email@example.com (Lim Chin Lam Jeffrey) I have many wonderful moments with my ETX in warm and humid Singapore's weather. I have come to realise that dew is not a problem, in fact I have not encounter dew at all so far! I have an improvised dew cap, but have never use them before. Do you have the same luck or do Meade make their scopes with EMC and Antifog coatings?? Jeff.
Sent: Saturday, May 3, 1997 20:05:05 From: TheDBarbee@aol.com I've written to some of the posts about the mirror vignetting problem. Anyone who has that problem with the 26mm or longer FL ep's probably should return the scope to Meade. Well enough for now! Clear skies to all. Regards, -Don
Sent: Fri May 2 09:28:57 1997 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MCGEE ROBERT) Dear Mr. Weasner, I enjoyed and appreciated all you had to write regarding the Meade ETX scope. I am just a beginner and have been searching for a good starter telescope. Your choice sounded very good to me. My only problem is finding one. The best so far is FOCUS, but I have to wait nearly a month to get it. Do you know of any other suppliers where I might have better luck? Thanks for your time in answering this mail. Sincerely, Robert McGee<
Sent: Mon Apr 28 13:56:33 1997 From: email@example.com (Cliff Newman) Mike: You mentioned you use a Pentax camera and have a problem with mirror vibration: the Pentax has an "unannounced capability". You can trip the mirror without tripping the shutter. All you do is very lightly tap the shutter release with your finger. It takes some practice to know how hard to tap it but it does work. Then you just press the shutter release as usual and the shutter trips. I have a question for the group: what wide field, low power, eyepieces do ETX users have? I've been told that anything over 32mm is probably wasted but I'm not sure why. I'd love to be able to use a good 35mm or wider eyepiece. Anyone tried it? Cliff
Mike here: I vaguely remember that many years ago I was able to do the mirror-trip trick mentioned but so far have not been able to reproduce it. Has anyone else?
Sent: 27 April, 21:44 From: PhilipH540@aol.com I have also used the basic camera adapter, although just once so far. My impressions are: The scope balances a little better with basic adapter vs the prime focus adapter. Sometimes its easier to use the basic adapter because the viewing angle through the camera is the same as through an eyepiece. The basic adapter will also provide prime focus with no eyepiece installed, at a slightly higher magnification, and with a reversed image. I have only used the 9.7mm Meade Super Plossel with the Adapter and only taken photos of the Moon. The reduced light vs prime focus requires an exposure of a few seconds, instead of about 1/125sec with 400 speed film as with the Prime adapter. This is to be expected because of the additional magnification. You may find that the rubber eye rings on the Meade eyepieces are removable. Good luck! Short of a CCD, the basic adapter is the only way I can think of to get high-quality magnified pictures off your ETX.
Sent: Wed Apr 23 23:42:37 1997 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry W. Karpurk) I am looking for a 'scope for astro and terrestrial viewing and photography, and have narrowed the field down to either the ETX or the Tele Vue "Ranger". I have seen some good photographs from the "Ranger" but as yet, I have seen none from the ETX. Are there any high quality astr/terrestrial photos out there? Has anyone compared the ETX to the "Ranger" ?? Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Larry.
Mike here: check out the ETX astrophotographic possibilities in the ETX Gallery.
Sent: Mon Apr 21 17:14:37 1997 From: email@example.com (Doug Cann) Hope all is well. I have been away for two and half weeks in Italy. I had a chance to see Hale-Bopp from a really dark site and it was (is) spectacular. What a great ending this comet is giving us. In Venice I was able to find the plaza where Galileo showed his telescope and Jupiter to the ruling Doge of the day in 1610. It was great standing in the same spot 387 years later. Galileo was showing that other objects orbit other planets (the moons around Jupiter) and so began the great debate over the sun centered solar system. It must have been really frustrating for Galileo to have to denounce his 'proof' of the 'sun in the middle' system for the earth centered one. A 1610 sketch of Galileo with his telescope in the plaza in Venice is often shown in books about Galileo. In Florence I was able to see two of Galileo's telescopes and other equipment that he used. Although I could 'look' through one of his telescopes, it was pointing at a wall !! It was such a great feeling just to be able to look through his telescope and think back to how he must have felt at the time. Just imagine what he could have seen and done with an ETX !! I wonder how long he had to wait for one of his telescopes !! In Florence I was also able to see his house where he lived for more than twenty years. It hadn't changed much !! Now back to reality. I hope to see Hale-Bopp tonight with my ETX and big binoculars for the first time in nearly three weeks. I hope that all is well with you. Cheers.....Doug
Sent: Mon April 21 1997 08:23am From: Isobutane@aol.com You know, I bought an ETX yesterday based largely on what you have on your web page. I can't say that I'm disappointed! I took it out last night, and it was amazing, even in terrible skies. Mark Added info: I came up with a new idea for astrophotography with the ETX. I have a good 8 mm camcorder that takes decent shots directly through the lens, and then I can use Snappy to capture the images into my computer and then use Photostudio to enhance and clean them up.
Sent: Mon Apr 21 00:39:02 1997 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (hirofumi oishi) Greetings from Kawasaki, Japan (Near Tokyo). I just happened to stop by your site, linked from Yahoo. Since I am an amateur astronomer, your honest, no bells and whistles, comments on a portable Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope ETX, helped me understand how good it would perform without giga expensive special equipment. It was also interesting to know that ETX could mount the popular CASIO QV-10/10A/100 CCD cameras. (Now, QV-11 has replaced QV-10A in Japan. It is more or less same camera for resolution and size) Only the disappintment was that I wanted to see more big pitures that you took, especially, Saturn and Jupiter if I desired to see. Anyway, if you are planning to enhance your equipment in the future, I would like to hear about your honest comments on the product that you puchase. Bye for now. Hirofumi Oishi Email: email@example.com
Sent: Sun Apr 20 19:31:29 1997 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ed Pershey) Picked up a Celestron 17mm Plossel this weekend. 73x with the ETX. That fits nicely between the standard 26mm (48x) and the 10.5 mm Televue Plossel (119x). Figure that with the shorty Barlow that will result in three additional powers: 96x 146x 238x Thinking about doing a little astrophotography and have been reading the comments. I'd like to buy a used SLR camera body: something light weight and as simple as possible. Old Olympus OM-1? A Nikon F-1? Wondering about whether to try to find a totally mechanical body, or whether to go ahead with an electronic shutter. Not having to worry about batteries would be nice, but all mechanical bodies are heavier, generally, and weight is a big factor when you're hanging off the back of the ETX. Tips on what to buy would be great. Wondering about the Meade Basic camera adapter. Noticing that the standard 26mm Plossel won't work, I'm thinking that the new Celestron 17mm, which is much shorter and has no rubber eye ring, would be ideal. Anybody else tried using the Meade Basic as Mike did? Any additional tips on using the ETX for photography would be great! Edward Jay Pershey Western Reserve Historical Society 10825 East Boulevard Cleveland, OH 44106 (215) 721-5722
Mike here: Thanks for the comments. As to electronic versus mechanical shutter, electronic could be OK if you have full control over it, from very short to very long. On the other hand if the exposure is calculated automatically, you will run into problems on some objects (similar to the problems I have with the Casio digital camera). When you do start some astrophotography, let me know the results. I'm still experimenting myself!
Sent: Sun Apr 20 15:29:33 1997 From: email@example.com Hi Mike, I have gleaned a lot of good info from your site over the months that I have been monitoring it, waiting for my ETX to finally arrive. Since I have certain pressing issues, I will submit my story and comments of my experience at a later time. I am new to the telescope user community, as my first telescope was a Jason reflector purchased 13 years ago, whose poor mount and controls frustrated me enough to partially diminish my love for astronomy, and eventually (after trying to image Halley's comet) give it up. Therefore, I don't consider myself having previous experience using a telescope. I do know a bit about optics, and about what people like to see when they look at stars through a telescope (airy disk and rings, etc.). The optics of the scope are very good, but I am unsure about the mechanical end of things. Following then are some questions regarding the ETX I finally received. I noticed from the start that tryng to move the scope by means of the Dec circles was a bit stiff, so I shyed away from doing so until about week later, and found that the Dec circles unscrewed (both in opposite directions of course), and the coord templates also moved a bit.. Very alarmed, I calmly stopped myself and thought (hoped) logically that this was something that happened to be part of the disassembly process, something that happened when you take the tube off the fork mount. Am I right and is this a user fixable thing, or is this a real problem (and how do I fix it)? If there is a slight but steady wind, there is a lot of vibration in the scope, which I assume is in the tripod legs. Am I correct in assuming this will get better when mounted on a sturdy tripod, and that the vibration is not in the mounting/scope mechanism? While the RA knob works very well in moving the scope, the Dec knob seems to slip before it kicks in and can move the scope up or down. Is this normal? The RA knob seems to work well, but just how far should I turn the RA lock to tighten it? It feels like it locks into place fairly well, and I don't get the same feeling when I try to tighten the Dec lock (I don't know how snug it should tighten). I know not to tighten it too much. I purchased the #64 T-adapter for the ETX, but it does not look the same as the picture in the user's manual. Of the two pieces, the longer tube does not have the metal grip at the end as the first one has. I hope this is just an aesthetic difference, but I am not sure if it is a bit shorter. How long should the assembly be? I haven't used it much, but when I tried to focus the comet with the camera attached, I felt like it couldn't quite focus right; the focus knob was all the way clockwise and needed to go a bit further to be in focus. I have a nagging feeling that the longer tube was switched with another Meade tube. Is this possible? Thanks very much for any help you can give me, and I'll post my story later. Unfortunately, the bad weather here and (now) Noreaster have given me precious few clear nights of seeing, but I hope that others are getting some good Hale-Bopp viewing in. Peter Taibi firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike here: I'm glad that you have found the ETX pages useful. I have never messed with the Dec circles and I don't plan to! But from your description it sounds like you were trying to move the scope by manually twisting the circle themselves as opposed to using the Dec control knob. Perhaps the Dec Lock knob is not fully unlocking and that is causing the stiffness you are experiencing. Remember, when you want to move the ETX a large amount in declination, unlock the Dec Lock and then move the scope (I just usually grab the tube and move the scope). For small adjustments after you have positioned the scope, lock the Dec Lock (I just tighten it until it doesn't turn anymore) and then use the Dec Control knob. If the Dec Control knob is slipping then perhaps the Dec Lock is not fully locking. I do not have any Dec Control problems with my ETX. The RA Knob and RA Lock are another story. About 90-95% of the time I can get a good lock. Other times the lock seems to slip right away and I have to unlock and relock it. Other users have reported problems and techniques to overcome the problem (comments available in the ETX Feedback archives). The ETX legs could be a source of the vibration on windy nights. A sturdy tripod may or may not help. However, I have used my ETX on windy nights when I thought I would have problems but I didn't notice any vibrations. As to the #64 T-adapter, the short piece can be used alone at Prime Focus or you can use both pieces in combination. The longer piece can not be used alone. As to focusing, I've only tried the combination with my Pentax and had no problems.
email@example.com (Adolfo Viana) said on Thu Apr 17 15:36:44 1997: >did you know if the ETX can be computerized for use in Alt-Dec mode? >who makes the encoders, rs232 conection and so on?
Mike here: I finally found the ad. JMI has several ETX accessories including a computeried attachment for the ETX. There's an ad on page 38 of the May 1997 issue of Sky & Telescope. No web page or e-mail address is shown; the phone# for info is 303-233-5353, or you can write to them at:
Jim's Mobile Inc.
810 Quail Street, Unit E
Lakewood, CO 80215
Sent: Fri Apr 18 13:38:04 1997 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Toxie G. Case) One of the better pages that I have seen on the web, informative and clean, nice page contrast, just the right amount of tech stuff. Enjoyed your information on the Meade ETX, I would like to move up in qualtiy from my department store tube but have not been able to find a gallery for low end tube's and what to expect in image quaility, I was very impressed, Thank you for doing that. Toxie Case email@example.com
Sent: Thu Apr 17 15:36:44 1997 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Adolfo Viana) hi Mike i found your page one the best on ETX i have a few questions, i hope you can help me did you know how to make a polar alignment for the ETX near equator? i think that using a tripod is not really a good choice because the telescope strees the head of the tripod so it is very unstable did you know if the ETX can be computerized for use in Alt-Dec mode? who makes the encoders, rs232 conection and so on? any help would be apreciated, thanks Adolfo Viana Bogota, Colombia email@example.com
Mike here: Thanks! I'm glad you like the ETX pages. As to polar aligning, a sturdy tripod might work (see my accessories comments for a photo of the ETX on a tripod). As to computerizing at ETX, I recall seeing an ad for one (probably in Sky & Telescope but I couldn't find the ad just now).
Sent: Thu Apr 17 15:10:37 1997 From: Han_Kleijn@compuserve.com (han kleijn) Hallo, I bought my ETX some weeks ago. The optics were fine but the RA speed was terrible wrong ! With the motor running, a typical star went in 10 minutes out of sight. After carefully checking the polar alignment and monitoring the ETX RA-scale in a run of 12 hour, I found that the RA motor had an error of one hour in the 24 hours !!. I'm a beginning astronomer, but this was much more then acceptable and reported by the dealer (10 minutes in 24 hours and in the review of Sky & Telescope 1/97 the accuracy was even better !.) The dealer offered me to take the ETX back and returning my money. He had no other ETX as replacement. This would mean that I had to wait 3 months or more for an other ETX. It would also mean a drive of 700 KM back to the dealer. I can not understand that the quality control of MEADE can accept such an offset in the RA speed !! The dealer tested the telescope prior to selling it to me, but also he did not notice the big offset. In Europe the price of the ETX is about US $ 1000,- For such a price, I expect something which can keep a planet or star in sight for an half hour or so. However giving the scope back, would mean for months no observing. To identify the problem, I did some measurement and decided to modify the scope electronics (and taking the risk). It worked out very well. By changing the 2,5 Volt reference diode from a fixed LM385 to an adjustable LM336 of 2,5 V, I'm now able to adjust the motor voltage and therefore the motor speed. The RA speed is now spot on. How to do this, see the ETX.GIF file. The resistor of 3k9 was changed to 2k2 and across the new reference diode a 22k potentiometer was connected. The arm of the potentiometer was connected to the adjust-gate of the new LM336. With this potentiometer the RA-speed can be adjusted plus or minus 7 %. I also tried a zener diode of 2,7 V. The voltage across a zener diode is however is varying to much with the current and therefore the battery voltage (some %). The result is a very unstable motor speed. and absolute not practical. If you want to know more, my E-mail address is: Han_Kleijn@compuserve.com Compuserve address: 100103,23 Some more comments: The battery holder could in some cases shortcut a battery. Many batteries have a metal cover. If on both sides the outside paint is slightly damaged, the battery is short-cutted. One of my batteries became pretty hot and lost most of its energy. I solved it by putting some pvc tape on one side of the battery. This to keep it isolated from the holder. Meade is claiming that the ETX can run for 50 hours. My ETX is using about 20 mA. A good battery has a capacity of 1100 mAH. The ETX should then theoretically run for about 55 hours. Alkaline batteries with a capacity of 2300 mAH should keep it running 115 hours. Han Kleijn, Date: 17-4-97
Sent: Tue Apr 15 15:15:25 1997 From: rong@pogo.WV.TEK.COM (Ronald M Gilbert) Mike.......I was reading your comments on "first impressions" and have a nice fix for the 90 deg. lens holder while in the "earth mode" of veiwing. I just received my ETX last month and was bothered with the same problem. I use a 35mm film canister. It fits great and can be held in place with the setscrew. I found a black canister and you'd think that it came with the ETX as an accessory. Try it! Nice ETX page you have......Cheers, Ron Gilbert
Sent: Mon Apr 14 08:24:15 1997 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Alan Roger Jones) I wrote earlier about the motor running backwords, I fixed that, but it still will turn about an hour or so in RA in about 15 min. Has anyone had this problem and were they able to correct it. I would like to use it for short time exposures,but there is no way at this speed. Thanks,Alan Aljones1@airmail.net
I talked to the service rep last night and he told me that a batch had gone out with the wrong gear ratio. Think they better have a talk with quality control. Needless to say that the scope goes back. Thanks,Alan.
Sent: Mon Apr 14 07:14:01 1997 From: email@example.com (James Gauldin) Hello, I am envolved in an astronomy club in Columbus Ohio. Greetings from the cloud capital of the world! If you would likt to see where I spend most of my time got to http://www-astronomy.mps.ohio-state.edu/~perkins/ and the club is at www.fpi-protostar.com/cas/ anyway, I am looking into an ETX for my first scope. No one in our club (that I know of) has one and I have not been able to try one out. It looks great but I am curious to know what accessories you found that you needed after you bought it. I would like to get it mailorder and get a few things needed all at once. I would likt to take pictures in the next year so camera equipment would be later. What have you found to be a good range of eyepices? Is there a large tripod of some sort to buy? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks! Jim Gauldin
Sent: 4/12/97 15:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (richard berry) I read one of the emails Jeffrey Elder sent you, claiming the world record for ordering an ETX. Well, I'll have to update that record. I ordered an ETX from Woodland Hills Camera (in CA) on Tuesday 4/7/97 and received it on Wednesday 4/8/97 (next day Air to Annapolis Maryland). rich
Sent: 4/11/97 18:49 From: email@example.com (Silvio Umberto Zanzi) Dear Michael, I visited your nice web page about ETX after a search through yahoo. I'm going to buy a telescope soon. My interests are Messier objects. Unfortunatelly I have a very low budget and I'll not be able to buy and adeguate telescope for this task. I'm so evaluating the ETX. Can you please write me your opinion about using this Meade product for deep sky observation? Thank you very much. Silvio Umberto Zanzi.
Sent: 4/11/97 13:24 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Teejay Riedl) I just bought an ETX last Saturday, and the weather in Wash DC has been nasty, so I've only had one night so far to do any observing. The first thing I've observed is that I need some higher-power plossls! Do you have any experience with the super / ultrawide angle lenses, and if so, do you think they're worth the additional cost? Keep me posted, & thanks for the web page! Teejay Riedl email@example.com
Sent: 4/10/97 13:51 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Lamb) I recently received my ETX from Shutan Camera, after a little over 3 months from ordering. But, the price was right ($495). I just wanted to pass along some info on a very good padded case that fits the ETX perfectly. It was purchased from Wal-Mart, with the store name on the box. The case itself is a large camcorder case, found in the photo/video department, at a cost of $29.95 + tax. This case is padded, is constructed of heavy weight fabric (probably nylon or polyester), and has a front zippered pocket with storage on the flap plus divided pockets at the rear of the front pocket. The main compartment is zippered, and the lid has a zippered mesh pocket which holds the ETX tripod legs perfectly, with room left over. The case included a large shoulder stap. The top is not zippered, but overlaps the sides and fastens with 4 heavy duty 2" Fast-lock type buckles. There are also 3 padded dividers with Velcro tabs that can be used as desired. I customized my case by cutting a foam block to support the front of the ETX tube, and 2 foam blocks on either side of the tube, then I covered these with soft cloth to prevent scratching (the sewing job was a bear!). Thank you very much for your Web page. It was extremely useful in providing the information needed to make a purchase decision. P.S. I noticed a problem last night with slipping in R.A., even with the R.A. lock engaged. I haven't had a chance to take the scope apart and determine the cause or a solution. If you have heard of this problem and know a fix for it, please let me know. Thanks again.
Sent: 4/10/97 13:39 From: email@example.com (Leigh Daniels) Hello Mike and other ETXers, Thanks for maintaining this site. I've benefitted a great deal from the information here. Here's my contribution. I'm also posting this on sci.astro.amateur. If you use a video tripod for your ETX, here's a simple way to set your tripod head to a close Polaris angle before going out to observe. It requires a small carpenter's spirit level. 1. Level your tripod. 2. Mount your ETX on the tripod with the big lens cap in place. Make sure that the tilt adjustment of the tripod head is centered, that is, there is no tilt. 3. Set and lock your ETX to a declination that equals your co-latitude. To find the co-latitude, subtract your observing latitude from 90 degrees. Here's an example. Obs. lat. = 42N17. 90 - 42d17m = 48d43m. Set your ETX declination to 49. 4. Adjust the altitude of the tripod head so that the ETX tube points approximately straight up. Now place the spirit level on the lens cap parallel to the declination axis and use the RA slow motion to level the tube. Now turn the level to be perpendicular to the declination axis (pointing toward where Polaris will be) and adjust the altitude of the tripod head so that the tube end is level. 5. Lock at this altitude and your tripod head is now very close to the correct polar alignment angle. 6. At your observing site, first level your tripod and then use the azimuth adjustment to align the tube at Polaris and you should be in business. You probably won't see Polaris in the scope but your ETX should track adequately for most observing. When I first tried this I used the above procedure inside, then set up the scope outside before sunset. I guessed where Polaris would be in relation to a nearby tree and set the azimuth. When Sirius came out, I locked the ETX onto it and let it track. It was a good guess because it kept Sirius in the 26mm eps field for 15 minutes before I moved on to other things. Hope this helps you spend less time aligning and more time having fun. Clear and dark skies, **Leigh
Sent: 4/6/97 09:36 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Alan Roger Jones) Hi, I just bought a EXT yesterday and it seems to do well. The problem I am having is that when I set it up and polar align the scope and turn on the motor drive with the motor control in the north position, it turns clockwise. I have to put the drive in the south position to move with the earths rotation. I am aligning the way it is shown in the manual with the fork and the tube are parallel but when engaged it turn the wrong way. Am I setting it up wrong or may the wiring be on the worng poles. Any help would be appreciated, Thanks Alan Jones email@example.com
Mike here: Set the scope up inside your home, have the scope tube horizontal with the eyepiece/finder side on top, and engage the drive. As you look down on it from above note where it is pointed. Let it run for about an hour and then come back to it. In the Northern Hemisphere, the objective end (opposite from the eyepiece end) should have moved to the right (clockwise) as seen from above the ETX. If it went left then the wiring or switch label is reversed. Not a critical item but something to note.
Sent: 4/4/97 06:18 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (rob pfile) Just wanted to share my experiences using the ETX as a camera-guiding platform for photography of Hale-Bopp. I decided to try using the mounting holes on the bottom of the tube to attach my camera to the scope. to do this, i first removed the finderscope so the telescope could be turned over, so it was positioned in the forks with the mounting holes on top. after hunting around some at the local photo store, i found a very small ball-head mount for a camera (bogen #3009.) unfortunately, being like a tripod head, this thing has a 3/8" threaded hole in the bottom. my photographer friend found a 3/8" to 1/4" converter sleeve which i screwed into the bottom of the head. I then put a 1/4" diameter threaded stud (actually a 3/4" long machine screw with the head cut off) into the ball head, then threaded the whole mess into the mounting hole closest to the corrector plate. after an extremely crude polar alignment, i took some 1 and 2 minute guided exposures of Hale-Bopp (50mm f/2 lens; Kodak Royal Gold 1000) that came out wonderfully. the ball head allows the camera to be positioned almost arbitrarily, and the scope seemed to track well enough even with the extra weight and extreme cold (we were in Yosemite) hope this information is useful. rob email@example.com
Sent: 4/3/97 21:46 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I am glad I finally found your web page. I placed my order for a ETX last May as soon as I saw the first adds, finally got it in July. I have been very happy with it for planatary and Moon views. I dragged it to Maui last November and got a good look at Jupiter etc. I used a small heavy duty Video tripod. I also use a BIG Bogen video tripod around home. I would like to add a right angle eyepice to the finder as I sometimes can not get under the scope at high elevations. Roger Tuthill is my dealer and is very helpfull. Keep up the good work. email@example.com
Sent: 4/2/97 18:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ed Pershey) After deciding that I wanted an ETX, I found that actually finding one was pretty difficult. I put my name on a waiting list at one of our local Nature Company stores...didn't hear for a two or three weeks, so I called one Friday...they had just gotten one in and drove over there and bought it right away. Nice little scope! Last week I was in Chicago for a conference and stopped by Shutan Camera (they advertise in Sky & Tel). They had the darn things in stock. Anyway, I purchased a Bogen tripod, which they recommend and sell with their ETX's. Its a Bogen 3211 tripod and 3030 head. Black, very stable and easy to do polar alignments. Look into it. I live in a suburb of Cleveland and the sky is pretty bright, but luckily it has actually been CLEAR lately. Good views of Hale-Bopp. The skies, however, have been pretty rough for high power. I purchased a Televue Plossel 10.5mm (about 119x) and haven't been able to really test the performance with it. Seems to be good, but Mars has been disappointing at that power so far. The moon reappears in a week or so and I'll see then. I bought the ETX for its portability...we're off to CA, AZ, and NM this summer by Amtrak! Plan to haul the little scope along. Can't wait for those clear AZ and NM skies! Ed Pershey Cleveland Heights, OH
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