Last updated: 30 April 2001

This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all ETX and DS models. Comments on accessories and feedback items appropriate to other ETX and DS models are posted on other pages. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Mike here: The June issue of Sky & Telescope magazine has a full page report on Ulrich Beinert's imaging of the International Space Station with his ETX-90 and QuickCam. Well done Ulrich! You can see his photos of the ISS and more at his ETX Astrophotography Site.

Mike here: If you have subscribed to the Site Update Notifications and have stopped receiving them, it may be due to the email address you subscribed from being rejected. Recently there have been a lot of bad addresses reported and those have been deleted from the subscription list. If you have been dropped just resubscribe.

Subject:	Suggestion...(?)
Sent:	Monday, April 30, 2001 14:01:35
From:	richard.noah@corp.usa.net (Richard Noah)
I am extremely new to all of this and have an ETX 60, still in the
packaging (4 days old). I am reading the manual, several times. Thanks
to your website, I understand that, for these ETX models, reading the
manual is not just critical, but the only solution to any upcoming
frustrations with alignment. I am not in a huge hurry, as the weather
has been weird and somewhat hazy at altitude. Besides, I have to work,
so the scope will have to be a weekend endeavor. I am lucky to be just a
short drive from astonishing darkness; either east or west about an hour
or less. I also have a pile of cameras and hope for some photography one
of these days. I'm pretty pumped and am already planning to get an ETX
125, even though I have yet to look thru my 60 !!

I do have a suggestion, that would immensely help newbies.... PLEASE ask
everyone that submits photography to give as much info as possible.
Often, on a picture caption, it just says ETX.. well, which ETX ?? A 125
is not a 70... Also to please not scimp on the camera details. Saying
it's a Nikon really doesn't help... they do make quite a few models.
Ditto for any filters used and so forth. I know that experimentation is
the best teacher, but it is sometimes difficult to figure if you "have
it together" if you see a picture, but no matter how hard you try, you
can't get the same results, even with comparable equipment.

Great website !!
Mike here: All of the pre-1999 photos were obviously done with the original ETX (-90). Until mid-1999, none of the photos were with ETX-125EC. Only in 2000 and 2001 have things become more complex.

Subject:	Deluxe tripods
Sent:	Monday, April 30, 2001 07:11:02
From:	keving9278@carolina.rr.com (Kevin Gibson)
Thought you might want to mention on your site that the Natural wonders
Stores are going out og business and the one here in Charlotte, NC has a
stack of Meade 883 deluxe field tripods for $44 and the etx controlers
for $36.

Great Website


Subject:	Natural Wonders stores
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 19:25:50
From:	d.birmingham@worldnet.att.net (David Birmingham)
I haven't read too many of the posts on the site, but what I haven't
seen in my readings is any information about the Natural Wonders stores
going out of business sales. On April 3rd I bought an ETX-70AT there for
$219.87 and for an extra penny got a deluxe field tripod. Their cases
are also on sale at about 50% off. The sale applies to everything in the
store, but I am mostly emphasizing the Meade telescopes, all models.
Thought the readers might want to know.

Mike here: Since you haven't read too many of the items you've missed reading all the pros and cons of purchasing at the NW "going under" sale.

Subject:	Truly a international site
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 17:24:12
From:	bobrose500@comcast.net (Bob Rose)
Every amateur astronomer I have ever met, knows of Mike Weasner's Site.
This must be the case for the entire world. I am sure that when SETI
finally discovers a signal and decodes it, ET will already be talking
about Weasner's Mighty ETX Site.

Thanks again for keeping this fine and informative site.

clear skies
bob rose

Mike here: Maybe ET uses an ETX. Why else would Meade have named it the "Extra Terrestrial" X telescope!

Subject:	Dec Slop
Sent:	Sunday, April 29, 2001 08:38:38
From:	mike@mike-hadley.demon.co.uk (Mike Hadey)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net ('Clay Sherrod')
Hi Clay,

Before I went out to try out the new firmware I had another go at
reducing the dec. slop in my 90 ETX.  I previously did everything on
Jordan Blessing's tune-up site and instituted all of your fixes per the
tech tips part of Mike W's site.  However, I was still having more play
in the declination axis than I wanted.  This time I removed the inside
cover of the right support arm so I could see the interaction of the
worm gear and wheel with the dec. lock tightened as I wiggled the
assembly up and down.  It looked the play was coming from a sloppy fit
between the trunion (tapered post) and the worm wheel.  I took the worm
wheel off and reversed it and it seemed to fit more tightly.  When I
clamped the assembly down the play was much less.  I reversed it again
just to verify that there really was a difference and, sure enough, it
was much more sloppy one way than the other.

It seems as though the inside hole of the worm wheel may tapered to
match the trunion taper.  Do you know if this is the case or not?  I
reviewed Jordan Blessing's site and your fixes on Mike's page and I
couldn't find a reference to making sure to face the wheel a specific
way but I may have missed it.  It would have been very easy for me to
put the thing on backwards after sanding it the first time as part of
the initial tune-up. Another thing that could cause this would be a
ridge around the hole in the wheel on one side, but I couldn't detect

Anyway, my declination play went from about 1 degree to hardly anything.
Let me know what you think.

Mike H.
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
There is a "yes" and "no" to your question and it is a VERY good point
you bring up and one that may help a lot of people, athough I still do
not recommend scopes under warranty being fixed by the user who is not
familiar with it.  You did the right thing as it turns out:

1)  No, the gear is NOT machined with a taper that fits the tapered
trunion....it should be but it is not.

2)  However, if you will look closely at the gear you will see that one
side has a slight more of a bevel on the hole that accepts the trunion
shaft. That is the side that should face the outside of the fork
(closest to setting circle disk).   HOWEVER, many times that results in
more play than should exist in the axis.   I frequently find scopes that
have been delivered from Meade (some new ones) that merely turning that
gear around greatly helps the slop in declination.

Also, I cannot stress enough the importance of proper loading of the
worm driver against the drive gear; too  much and it will 1) wear out
the motor eventually; and, 2) cause unpredictable and jerky motion in
declination. Too little and the probervial slop occurs and the backlash
of the axis is increased measureably.

I am glad the gear reversal works for you.

Clay Sherrod
I was in a hurry to try out the new firmware so I didn't spend as much
time as I should have looking for things like the bevel you mentioned
(although I did look for a ridge).  The greater bevel does explain the
difference.  I checked the preload on my scope as part of the initial
tune-up.  The asymmetrical nature of the worm wheel is probably worth an
addendum to the comments on your tech tips.  Thanks again for the

Subject:	Leo Guide
Sent:	Saturday, April 28, 2001 23:32:53
From:	teb1013@hotmail.com (Thomas Brown)
Just wanted to say I had a good time tonight with the Leo constellation
guide, with my 125 finally performing optically and with the Autostar
working about as well as it has with the 125 [it seemed to work better
with the ETX 90 EC, but, possibly this had to do with the field of
view].  Got some great views of Algieba, Alula Australis, and picked up
the Messier galaxies from your list as well [although, as you point out,
galaxies, on the whole need dark skies, and in the suburban Lehigh
Valley PA, that's something I don't really have.  Still, M 65 and 66
were a nice pair, and I'm working on averted vision [not something which
comes easily for me] and this does help [I find it's easier sometimes to
slowly move the scope across the area, the faint galaxies seem easier to
see that way.  One bizarre thing, the Autostar seems better at going to
objects in the data base, than using the coordinates you give, why the
scope would be more acurate with one than the other I can't imagine.  In
any event I had a great time, then went to a couple of objects from your
Ursa Major list, especially M81 and 82, which were almost amazingly
bright when compared with M 65 and 66 and, as you point out take
magnification well.  Ended the night with a look at the double double in
Lyra and found the four elements easy to split with a 17mm eyepiecw with
the #126 Barlow, one heck of a lot easier than with the 90. Anyway,
thanks for the constellation guides.  I'm looking forward to trying each

From: "Clay Sherrod" (sherrodc@ipa.net)
Tom - sounds like you had a great night out...you are right, the
galaxies really need some dark sky for good views, but sounds like
overall you did very well.  I too have noticed taht "entered"
coordinates are off somewhat on the AutoStar....what version are you
running?  It might be time for a good download for new firmware from
Meade (v2.2ed is now on line), a complete RESET/RETRAIN of the AutoStar
and scope.  I have found that very much helps.  sometimes a delay from
entering your TIME and the actual time you have completed your two-star
alignment (at which time the sidereal motor(s) actually begin tracking)
will result in "computed" and "entered" coordinates being a bit askew
from the database objects.

Keep observing!  New guide on line for Ophiuchus (this is a great one)
and one coming out this week on Hercules!  Thanks for using!

Clay Sherrod
Thanks for the comment, I'm still running 2.0 from when I got my ETX
90EC back in late 99.  I don't have the 505 cable and software,  I
didn't get it becaue I  use a G3 Mac, which not only requires Virtual PC
to run Windows [which I have] but also would require a USB adaptor.  If
you and Mike consider that the upgrade will really make a difference
with pointing accuracy, I'll have to consider the hardware and software
cost.  Frankly I felt that Meade's refusal to provide Mac support or USB
connections to be pretty irritating [I'd rather spend the money on a new
eyepiece, or save towards that heavy duty tripod you recommend [the
"deluxe" is just too flimsy for the 125].


Subject:	Solar projection
Sent:	Saturday, April 28, 2001 17:35:50
From:	VictorsP@aol.com
I had proyected images of the Sun in cardboard using binoculars and
moving it up or down to get a bigger image.  Most of the times I covered
one of the lenses to get just one image of the Sun.  The kids love it
and it's easy to see sun spots specially if the proyected image is big
enough.  I just bough an ETX-90 EC and I'm thinking if it is safe to do
the same by fliping the mirror up and proyecting the image through the
back hole (covering the finderscope first!).  I love your website and
found the information very useful.

Thank you for your help

Victor Pena
Mike here: NO NO NO!!!! Do not use eyepiece projection for viewing the Sun with the ETX. You will most definitely damage something, either the plastics or the glue. If you want to view the Sun with an ETX use a proper solar filter; see the Accessories - Filters page.

Subject:	Re: Lens cleaning pen
Sent:	Saturday, April 28, 2001 12:50:46
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Ken
I do not like the lenspen....they contain the same stuff as lens
cleaner for cameras which you ARE NOT supposed to use on fine coated
astronomical objects.  I continue to hear people using them, but they
will eventually have dulled optical surfaces from using them.  Mix a
gallon of cleaning solution for all your needs:  corrector lens,
eyepieces, finder, etc. using three parts distilled water, one part
(quart) isopropyl alcohol, and one teaspoon of ivory liquid; clean using
this onto a Kleenex (only use that brand) and rubbing gently; for
eyepieces, roll the tissue into a "pencil" and slowly clean with it.

On the LX site they are now promoting using WINDEX to clean
optics....that is ridiculous and is an old fad that got started back in
the early 80's and quickly died when corrector plates started getting
very dull.

Thanks for writing!

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Ken
>Thanks for all the great advice and answers you've given me in previous
>e-mails, and on the ETX web site. Another question... what do you think
>about Lens Cleaning Pens? The type with a brush at one end and a chamois
>pad on the other end. Are they ok for routine cleaning of eyepieces?

Subject:	ETX 70 vs ETX 90
Sent:	Saturday, April 28, 2001 07:48:18
From:	jamesdewberry@home.com (james dewberry)
I am trying to decide which telescope to purchase.  I am an amateur and
can by the ETX70 now, but have thought of waiting and saving my money
until I have enough for the ETX90.  The sky in my area is around middle
of the road. I am not in the country with pure black sky's but I am far
enough outside of town to see a vast number of stars with the naked eye.

I am interested in details of the moon and major planets.  Basically I
would like to know your opinion on how much better the images are from
one to the other.  I know that he 90 will be better but is it a
substantial difference or just  a minor difference.

Lastly can you control the ETX90 using a computer or do you have to
purchase the autostar controller to use a computer.


Mike here: The focal length of the ETX-90EC is 1250mm. The focal length of the ETX-70AT is 350mm. This means you'll get higher usable magnifications from the -90. For your purposes this is likely to make the most difference to you. And yes, you need the Autostar to do computer control.

Subject:	well done!
Sent:	Friday, April 27, 2001 08:55:22
From:	kentest@hotmail.com (Ken Test)
To:	sherrodc@ipa.net
Clay - Just a quick line to say, well done on an excellent series of 'GO
TO' articles. More of the same please !!

And another note to Mike - a brilliant web site. Congratulations to
yourself and your contributors.


Ken Bush
A very amateur astronomer.
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Ken- thank you so much.  I have another VERY nice article coming out
soon on Ophiuchus...it is more than most, but very fun and informative;
I am finishing it up right now and spotted your message come through!

Keep tuning into Mike's great ETX site.....more great stuff from lots of
great folks appearing weekly!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	ETX-125 repair complete
Sent:	Thursday, April 26, 2001 19:15:13
From:	110641.1527@compuserve.com (Bob Thompson)
Due to worsening "image shift" problems that led to a complete lock-up
of the focus system, I shipped my three-month old ETX-125 back to Meade
for repairs on 3/22/01.  It came back to me on 4/23/01.  Reassembled,
trained gears, & did a two star alignment that night, though conditions
were poor. Tonight was beautiful, warm, clear,  and enjoyable, though
there seemed to be considerable atmospheric disturbance.

There is absolutely no "image shift" now.  Everything seems to be
working well but I do have one question.  Before the repairs, when I
took the scope out of focus, the image went from a bright spot to a
bright "donut."  I seem to remember that donut being concentric.  Now,
the out-of-focus "donut" is compressed on the right side.  If this is
causing a problem it's not apparent to me, but I am a little curious to
know if this is a "normal" condition.

Bob Thompson
Mike here: See the item "Star Test on my ETX 125EC" further down this page. If that is what you are seeing then that message has some guidance. If thermal currents are not the problem you may have a collimation problem. Whether it is serious or not will depend upon how much out-of-collimation things are.


I looked at this post.  The donut doesn't look at all like his drawings.
The right side is just a little narrower than the top, bottom, or left.
I'll test per your instructions. I'm going to have very loose standards
with this problem, as I can't stand the thought of another four weeks
without the scope.  I'm hooked.
Bob Thompson

Subject:	RE:  No serial port on laptop
Sent:	Thursday, April 26, 2001 14:33:14
From:	DonMcClelland@webtv.net (Donald McClelland)
To:	tomjbor@yahoo.com
Hi Tom,
I ran into the same problem.  I have a Toshiba Satellite laptop that
only uses USB connections.  It was a nightmare finding out but I finally
found an adapter that works at Cirquit City.  It's made by Belkin model
#F5U103 or P80515.  Those are the only numbers I see on the unit.  Seems
to work fine.  Let me know how it works out.
Clear Skies, Don

Subject:	Clay Sherrods ETX Supercharge
Sent:	Thursday, April 26, 2001 01:31:46
From:	Henry8008@home.com (Henry Diaz)
I just wanted to post a general message for everyone with an ETX.

Clay Sherrod has a "Supercharge" service which I feel is not only
fantastic but actually a necessity. I have an ETX 125 which I had only
used a couple of times but noted some things that were just not right
with it. I was considering returning it for a different scope but I
didn't want to part with the excellent views offered by this scope - I
had looked through several other scopes (all 8" and above) at a star
party and the 125 was one of the better scopes even though it had the
smallest aperature!

I found out about Clays "Supercharge" service and took advantage of it.
The difference in the scope fantastic! It's exactly what the scope
needed to be turned from: " a scope with incredible optics but some
mechanical flaws" to a scope with incredible optics that operates as
advertised. He also cleaned my optics, eyepieces, updated my autostar,
correctly trained my drives etc.. as well as answered the 100 million
questions I had about telescopes, usage, etc. etc. etc.

This service really is a must and anyone with an ETX should take
advantage of it because as I mentioned earlier - my ETX was one of the
best scopes visually at a star party I attended where just about every
scope was a lot bigger but most were no where near as crisp and sharp

And Mike, I really appreciate this web site, I've pledged a contribution
before and as soon as I can will be happy to do so again.


Subject:	a very nice tribute
Sent:	Tuesday, April 24, 2001 20:55:49
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike- I thought you would like to see this...it is from Paul Loughman in
Alaska, who is very very proud of his newly-Supercharged ETX 125.  We
have had a lot of nice corresondence from Mr. Loughman and he is a
dedicated Weasner Mighty ETX Web Site contributor!  And obviously, very
happy with the results of his recent tune-up.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	S&T/Astronomy thoughts
Sent:	Tuesday, April 24, 2001 18:23:08
From:	billpalo@juno.com (Bill Palo)
Just wondering...Do you ever wish that your site would get more press
coverage (or even a brief mention) in the mainstream magazines like Sky
& Telescope and Astronomy?  A few months ago, S & T had an article
dedicated to the writer's favorite websites and I was surprised that
yours wasn't listed.  I checked out each of them and none are in your

Mike here: Well, I don't lose any sleep over it. Obviously the writers there don't use ETX scopes...

Subject:	questions
Sent:	Tuesday, April 24, 2001 17:25:54
From:	plasmaknight@hotmail.com (Wei-Chieh Chen)
I keep thinking that my ETX-90EC's aperture is way too small. I can't
afford to get one of those LX200s. What would I be able to see with my
telescope? What can't I see?

I would like to know if I am able to observe galaxies and if they could
take up about 1/3 of the field of view without losing too much of the

About to which magnification would I still be able to view deep sky
objects with optimal clarity?

Why are some globular clusters I view so dark and barely visible? (I
viewed M13 and it was extremely faint and blurred out with the 26mm
Plossl they supplied.)

How fine would I be able to view the Andromeda Galaxy? Which galaxies
would I be able to view that are bright through the eyepiece?

Why isn't the Autostar accurate? I trained my motors and retrained them
again and again. Most of the objects I selected for the Autostar to find
won't show up except for a few globular clusters.

Which light pollution filter should I use to view galaxies better and
brighter? (I live in the suburbs outside of a relatively small city.)

Final Question: Would an Orion 25mm Lanthanum eyepiece outperform my
Meade 26mm Plossl (LP) in brightness, sharpness and contrast; and if
not, which other eyepiece would you recommend?

Thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions. I know I'm
very picky about these kinds of stuff and I just want to know how well
my telescope fares with that of larger apertures such as 8" Newtonians
and 8" Schmidt-Cassegrains. (Since my parents will never buy me one of
those fabulous LX200s.)
Mike here: Well, first off, you have some expectations which a 90mm telescope will not live up to. Even an 8" or 12" won't give you all the views you would like to see with your eyes. That said, globular clusters look different because they are different. Some are fainter, some are larger, some are brighter, some are smaller, and some have more or less stars than others. But to many observers with small telescopes, they appear as faint fuzzy blobs. Using low power eyepieces instead of high powers works best on the faint fuzzies. That also applies galaxies. Don't expect to see spiral arms in all the glorious detail you see on photographs. I suggest you read through the experiences of others as documented on the Buyer/New User Tips page, user reports on the User Observations page, and the tips and info on the Observational Guides/References page. Regarding a light pollution filter, see the comments on the Accessories - Filters page. I bet that you won't notice any difference in the Orion 25mm Lanthanum eyepiece vs the 26mm eyepiece that came with the ETX. As to why you are having problems with the Autostar, could be a bunch of reasons. Improper setup, incorrect settings, and old software can all be causes of problems. But it is also possible that the Autostar is getting the object centered but you can't see it if it is too faint. If you think you have alignment problems, check the tips on the Autostar Information page.

Subject:	No serial port on laptop
Sent:	Tuesday, April 24, 2001 13:12:37
From:	tomjbor@yahoo.com (TOM BORKOWSKI)
I have the starry nights pro and I want to be able to connect my
ETX-125EC with autostar to my laptop computer using the meade #505
cables. I just found out that my laptop doesn't have a serial port. Have
usb. Ant suggestions? Will using serial port to usb adapter work? Any
Mike here: Some but possibly not all USB-serial adapters work.

Subject:	focal reducer
Sent:	Tuesday, April 24, 2001 12:06:31
From:	waveride@pacbell.net (Larry L Horrell)
We continue to be absorbed in your site.  Its an education  .   I think
any smaller gathering near Bordego Springs would be something that some
of us are interested in ;  more on that later.

Things went well last night during my first astrophotographic session.  
A good polar-alignment kept tracking accurate.   I just concentrated on
piggy-back with the JMI, for now.    What scares me is the
Counter-Weight !   I was thinking its too much weight for the ETX-90 EC
motor !  I hope I 'm wrong.   A couple of times the Declination Lock
slipped,  with the weight of the camera and counter-weight.  I took the
counter-weight off !   I was only using a Olympus OM2 w/ 50 mm lens plus
2X teleconverter; no heavy telephoto lens.   Have you heard of any
damage caused by the extra weight ?  ?   ?

I was blown away by the 5 am skies this morning !  The Milky Way is
straight overhead !    Why wait for summer ?

I am hearing,  the secret to filming deepsky thru the ETX-90 EC itself, 
is a focal-reducer.  But there seems to be a lack of imformation on
this.  Meade does have one of the LX series,  but I haven't seen it for
the ETX.   Jim Barry on your site
(http://weasner.com/etx/guests/guests_deepsky00.html) describes his
home-made version.  I wonder if you've heard of any other Focal Reducer
for the ETX ? ? ?   Or any other description of this.   This needs
looking into.

ps ~   just recieve this from scopecity.com
     We offer the Meade f/6.3 Reducer Flattner for $129.95, but it will
     not work on the ETX 90.

It is for their larger Schmidt-Cassegrains.

You can buy gas hypered film directly from Lumicon.

Thanks for the (In) Site,
Mike here: I haven't heard of any damage occurring from slippage. I had an ETX-90 piggybacked on an ETX-90 and had severe slippage. No damage occurred. As to a focal reducer, check the Shutan Wide-Field Adapter discussed on the Accessories - Showcase Products page.

Subject:	your most recent editorial
Sent:	Monday, April 23, 2001 21:23:00
From:	slvrbula@mato.com
Hi Mike,

Your latest editorial hit the nail right on the head,not once,not
twice,but all through the message and addendum. I used to ask questions
of you when I first got started, but none related to the machinery not
working the way it was supposed too. I had an Autostar Controller just
die on me one night and it was a valid question as to what had happened.
I talked with "John" at Meade and he agreed something bad had happened.
Solution, send in the broken one and they send a new one. Worked
perfectly since this was a legitimate gripe. The new Autostar arrived in
2 weeks and all has been well since then.

I always play with my ETX-125 at every opportunity I can get. When it's
crummy weather outside I set it up inside and just run through all the
various procedures to align and set up as though I were outside on a
beautiful evening prior to total darkness. I remember Richard Seymour
saying you can learn a lot and have fun doing it on a rainy day/evening
using the Autostar to explore and become ultra aware of it's
keypad,their functions and abilities ( like finding out the Field of
View [for a given scope and eyepiece] FOV ) or learning how to set
things all up in daylight and then enter the "sleep function" while you
wait for darkness and then hit any key except "enter" and find the scope
tracking the same part of the sky,so you're all set to have fun. Another
really helpful tool I use is "Starry Night Backyard". With this soft-
ware it doesn't care whether it's day or night. Therefore you can set
things up indoors and practice by observing where the scope (OTA) is
pointing and what shows up on the PC when using "Starry Night Backyard".
This is quite an educational experience and though the approximate
position of the OTA in relation to what the Autostar says and what the
PC shows may differ slightly the general alt/az position should be
fairly close. If not, you have work to do to make sure all things are
equal ie. date/time, daylight savings time yes/no, same physical
location (lat/longs) the same. Both the Autostar and Starry Night have
to be on the same page for this to work. Good practice and and good
backup to indicate possible errors--all this with cloudy skies!

If you do these sorts of things and read your website and follow Clay's,
Richard's and your advice on how to check and examine the many features
of the ETX series and follow this advice (slowly,don't jump into
something way over your head), then when it comes time to check the
proof of the pudding you will find things work as advertised and easy as

I think a lot of folks buy these instruments expecting to see heavenly
bodies like those shown in catalogs and periodicals,not to mention
websites and their beautiful photographs. Just isn't possible with the
ETX-90 or 125. However, some very good and exciting viewing can be
viewed with these instruments. Also, don't forget the capability of
these scopes to view and photograph terrestrial objects. Very good stuff
here plus a really good way to train the drives and align the viewfinder
with the eyepiece. Another good rainy day project to make things right
and familiarize yourself with the autostar and the ETX.

Enough already, just want to reaffirm my opening statement that says I
agree with Mike's concerns of impatience and ignorance. You can't have a
successful outing with any scope unless you avoid those two pitfalls.

Good Luck and Clear Sky's
            Tony Bulat

Subject:	M. Weasner's Editorial
Sent:	Monday, April 23, 2001 14:49:17
From:	rodrickse@mediaone.net
Mr. Weasner,
I just read your editorial. To which I say, "very well done." I found it
enjoyable to read. And I, a 17 year old, can relate to 105% of what you
wrote. Thank you again. For your editorial, for your website, for you
passion for astronomy, but mostly, for your willing ness to share all of
that with me and others like me! Thank you Mr. Weasner!

Joe Rodricks, a newlt inspired 17 year old.

Subject:	Tripod
Sent:	Sunday, April 22, 2001 16:08:41
From:	mvgazy@hotmail.com (gfjyhgkjjg l,klnkjh)
I was hoping you could give me some advice...
Im thinking of buying either Meade`s ETX 90 Spotting scope or Helios MX
90 as a lens 2 my camera, but how can I attach the scope to a EQ tripod?
Is it possible? I really dont want to buy a telescope, just to do some
Hope someone can help me out...

Thanks, Chris
Mike here: Both the astro and spotting scope versions of the ETX-90 have a standard photographic tripod mounting hole in the bottom of the tube.

Sent:	Sunday, April 22, 2001 13:51:44
From:	moshom@home.com (Doug Bates)
I recently upgraded from an ETX 70 to the ETX125.  In fact,  I just
bought it yesterday and took it out of the box.  I'm having two

1.   It won't focus.  I bought the electric focuser and installed it
right off.  When I removed the original focus knob the pin seemed to
slide forward (inside the scope).  I tilted the scope to point up and it
slide back out.  Whew!   I thought.  That thing almost disappeared
inside!  Anyway,  I attached the electric focuser gear to the knob as
instructed,  slapped on the focus unit and attempted to get it to focus
on a chimney about 100 yards away.  No luck.  Despite running the
focuser or turning the gear by hand it refuses to come into focus. Now, 
I know that my old ETX 70 took about 50 turns to focus when I changed
eyepieces but I've gone over 100 without result.  Did something fall
apart inside when the pin slide forward?  What do I do?

2.  Slewing in azimuth mode is inconsistent.  I noted after I removed
the scope from the box that the horizontal locking lever was in the
unlocked position.  When I tried to slew right or left the scope would
not move.  So,  I slide it to it's locked position but it will not stay
in the fully locked position.  It keeps sliding back about a quarter
inch.  So,  when I try to slew  left or right the motor does not seem to
be in gear for a second or two and there is a delay in response.  Is
this supposed to happen?

Thanks for your great site!

Doug B.
Mike here: I suspect you are making a common mistake with the electric focuser. See Clay Sherrod's email "Electric focuser with handbox" on the January 2001 ETX-90EC Feedback page (in the Feedback Archive) for some helpful info. I found this (and bunches of other electric focuser related discussions) by searching the site for "electric focuser" (exact match). There is some gear backlash when slewing. This is normal in out-of-the-box ETX scopes. I've not seen an Azimuth lock lever that would unlock on its own.

Subject:	ETX Site & Clay's Supercharge Service
Sent:	Sunday, April 22, 2001 11:42:53
From:	artt@crosslink.net (art thomas)
First, let me add my congratulations to those of others on a great web
site.  I had debated for several months whether to buy the Meade ETX
125EC or the Celestron Nexstar 5, until finally deciding on the Meade.
Your site makes me doubly glad that i bought the Meade!!!!

Second, I want to provide some feedback to Clay Sherrod for his
SuperCharge service.  I've only had my scope for a few months, and
hadn't used it very much, so hadn't encountered any of the mechanical
and electrical problems discussed on your site.  However, I had become
worried that I too would eventually encounter them.  Being
mechanically-challenged, I was jealous of all the folks who were taking
advantage of Clay's tuneup tips, and had wished that Clay would someday
offer the service for a reasonable fee.  Needless to say, I was
delighted when I read he was doing just that!

I contacted Clay and worked out a time-frame when he would be able to do
my ETX.  Sure enough, I shipped it to him, had him work his magic, and
got my scope back in under 2 weeks.  Unfortunately, its been cloudy here
since the scope came back, but I have used it terrestrially and noticed
an improvement.  Can't wait to use it astronomically.

Clay discovered 2 major flaws with my scope....so much grease in the
gears that it was working its way in to my encoders and a wire bundle
that was getting chewed up by the gears.  Either of those problems would
have soon resulted in major problems for me, and a return of the scope
to Meade for warranty work.  The money spent on Clay's Supercharge
service was well worth it, considering the downtime I would have
experienced going back to Meade.

I highly recommend Clay's SuperCharge service!!!!!

Keep up the good work with your excellent site.


art thomas

PS  Can ypu please post this note on yopur site, so others can take
advantage of Clay's service?

Subject:	nightmare
Sent:	Sunday, April 22, 2001 00:03:06
From:	waveride@pacbell.net (Larry L Horrell)
Well,  with the table tripod I was finally able to Polar align . What a
nightmare!      The design of the telescope has the viewfinder totally
useless,  let alone attaching a camera when viewing Polaris!   On top of
the awkwardness of adjusting the direction of the scope with the
electronic controller,   the motor no longer siderally tracks !    It
just sits there !   Its been a couple months since we've taken this out,
but it used to track the rotation of the sky when we first bought it.  
Hmmm . . . . makes you wonder ~   The manual seems to have been written
by a monkey at times. Its not very enjoyable reading.    My favorite
passage in the Meade manual is on page 22 where they try to describe a
procedure concerning siderial tracking.  Its  pure garblygook !  
Mindless.  Evidentially,  the telescope needs to be repackaged and sent
back to the shop.   I'll try again in the morning to make sense out of
this.   But right now,  the polar-alignment configuration seems very
awkward and the motor is not tracking.   Hopefully things will improve
after another night.

Mike here: If you are using the standard controller, check that the RA tracking mode is actually engaged. When you turn the power on, the RA motor should begin running immediately. If not, change the mode. There have been reports of the setting not being remembered by the standard controller after a period of time of non-use. You might want to also check the batteries. Many have noted the finderscope difficulties, hence there is a large market in other finderscopes.


Things are begining to happen.  You have a good point about the
controller loosing memory.   That may have happened.  I let the tracking
go for a while before shutting down,  and it seems to have helped 
regain some of the memory & vitality  it once had.   The telescope is
starting to look good sitting on its  tripod.   Polar aligned,  we need
to understand about the celestial coordinate location.   The Right
Ascension Setting Circle seems to spin freely.  Is that normal ?   I am
not sure how the spinning R.A. Circle is suppose to be utilized.  For
instance,  tonight the Virgo cluster of galaxies will be located near
R.A. 12h 23m    Dec 15 degrees.  Well,  I know you use the top set of
numbers on the R.A. Circle,  but it seems like the circle must be set
and the controller  needs to know what time it is ?    I am not using
the AutoStar GoTo.   Only the electronic controller.  It seems that
there should be something more written on  the R.A.Circle  when locating

I am not sure if it is possible to observe M 100 and M 99  tonight. The
air is a bit moist.  M3 was easy enough but I have not been able to spot
the Whirlpool Galaxy yet either.   Either it is too faint and super dark
skies are required,  or I have not yet hit the right spot.   Dark light
adaptation is key in deepsky I ve noticed.  The goal of today will be to
learn how the R.A. Circle works in locating M 100.

Thanks for your response, 
Mike here: See the FAQ for the "Q. The Right Ascension (azimuth) setting circle tape moves, what do I do?" That should help you.

Subject:	altitude play
Sent:	Saturday, April 21, 2001 21:56:13
From:	nmbolton@msn.com (James Bolton)
I was following Clay Sherrod's altitude play fix and I have seemed to
ruin the threading inside the right fork arm where the clamp screws in.
The little copper bushing comes out every time I tighten it, and the
hole it was in is kind of ripped up. Any suggestions? Or did I blow it?
I couldn't get any pictures, but maybe you'll know what I'm talking
about. I'm starting to really dislike this telescope because 90% of all
my time with it is trying to fix its mechanical slops. Another  5% is
used to set it up. Another 4% is used to try to aim the stupid thing at
something. Another .9% is used messing with the autostar. And finally,
.1% of my time with it is used observing. I may sound impatient and
unforgiving, but I seem to have more frustration with it than calculus.
I want a 8" Dob., but I blew all my money on this telescope (I get about
a 40$ monthly salary from my parents. I'm 13 years of age). Maybe I'll
just concentrate on my other hobby, carnivorous plants and juggling
(weird, huh?). And just to drag this e-mail message out even longer-
I've studied and memorized 15 or 16 of the spring constellations and I
am enjoying it; with a pair of binoculars I'm perfectly happy, but when
it comes down to the telescope- well, you know. Please give me some
encouraging words and maybe a suggestion on my declination dilemma.


P.S. great site. Oh wait, and can you describe all the accessories on
your telescope like the right angle thing coming out the back of it.
Thank you.
Mike here: All the accessories on the ETX on my Home Page are described on either on the appropriate pages (eyepieces on the Accessories - Eyepieces) or on the Accessories - Showcase Products page. As to your telescope problems, I suspect you have expected too much, have too little experience, and need more patience. Obviously this telescope can accomplish a lot or there wouldn't be such a web site as mine. Consider yourself fortunate to get such a capable telescope at age 13. You can see the one I had when I was age 13 at Some "Ancient" History and I was thrilled at what I could see with it, given my level of experience at 13. As you indicate, you may have messed up something when you probably didn't need to mess with it at all. That's one of the risks one takes when trying to improve things. Sometimes it works and sometime it doesn't. Perhaps our mechanical expert Clay will have some more encouraging words for you. I can tell you that as you can experience using the telescope, the percentage of quality observational time will increase. Hang in there!


First of all, this isn't my first telescope. My first was a 5" reflector
from Meade, I started at about age 7 (so you can't call me
inexperienced; that you so unknowingly exclaimed in the previous
message). Can you give me some good stores that supply ETX accessories
on the web? As it turns out, the results of "excessive tinkering" is
irreversible, and I must return it to meade to get the fork or part of
the fork arm replaced. I've also asked them to improve some of the
mechanics, like the altitude play and some other things. They were very
polite, saying "I'll do what I can." I've learned my lesson.

Clear skies!

Mike here: I didn't mean to insult you so I hope you didn't take it that way. As to dealers, the ones listed in the Dealers section on the Astronomy Links page have all had good reports.

Subject:	camera adapter for etx90
Sent:	Saturday, April 21, 2001 14:04:23
From:	pjr@eclipse.net (Paul Roberts)
I bought an etx90 last year which I am very happy with.  I've been
thinking of getting an adapter so I can attach a camera.  I see Meade
has a #64 adapter for about $39 (plus additional charge for t-ring).  On
the Natural Wonders online site, they have a going out of business sale
with a "universal t-ring adapter" for only $7.  Is there something
special about the Meade #64 adapter or will any adapter suffice?

Also for anyone who is interested, they also have the Meade deluxe
tripod reduced from $199 to $49.

Once again, thanks for your great site.
Mike here: See the Accessories - Astrophotography page for more on adapters. For many adapters you need two pieces, as discussed on the page.

Subject:	jmi piggyback photos
Sent:	Saturday, April 21, 2001 12:39:29
From:	waveride@pacbell.net (Larry L Horrell)
You have an awesome site we are just getting into.   In the next few
moments we are leaving drive into San Francisco to buy the Meade Camera
attachement for 35 mm and would like to  do the JMI piggyback
photograghy exhibited on your site.    How do you feel about this work ?
Is it something to pursue or will we be generally disapointed?   We
have the Meade ETX 90 and 125 and would obviously like to evolve into
bigger instruments.    Have you tried Kodak PJM film and the nitrogen
gas treatment  ? ? ?     I quess my question really is, do you continue
to be enthusiastic using the ETX 90 or is it better to move on  ?  ?  ?

We'll check out more of your site tonight.

Mike here: The JMI Piggyback Adapter works fine. Scopetronix has one that doubles as a counterweight. Haven't tried that film or cold-soaking. If I wasn't still enthusiastic about the ETX I wouldn't still be running this web site.


Thanks.    Just got back from the City with the JMI,  and table top
tripod (we have the Deluxe tripod for the ETX 125),  and the
attachments.   Couldn't find anyone that had a clue about Kodak PJM film
and ended up getting Fuji 800 NHG II 800 print film.   This could be a
mistake? Developing at $16 a pop seems a little questionable for
experimental purposes ?    What film would you suggest starting with ?  
I am more interested in long,  10 -30 minute exposures of clusters and
deeper space objects,  than the moon and planets at the present.    I
know this is going to be a challenge.    Oh,   I now notice you used
Kodak Gold Max ISO 800. I'll get that !    Your Horsehead Nebula is very
nice ~~  M42 looks inspiring . . . .

Tracking for 10 minutes or longer I think will be the real test.   I am
reading your page on the Microstar II+ CMF.     Is that nesscessary with
the Meade ETX 90 controller ?

Its easy to get really excited about something new like this, but its
going to be important to gather up as much helpful imformation as
possible before shooting and deveolping many rolls of film.   Your site
has been  most helpful.  Thanks for the vision and clarity.

Larry Horrell
Mike here: Enjoy the challenge of astrophotography! And yes, you will end up spending a lot for development and finding that much of a 20 or 36 exposure roll will be wasted. Especially as you learn. But that is part of the process of learning! The higher the ISO (old ASA) rating the faster the film (meaning it will record more for a given exposure length) but higher speed also tends to be more grainy (as you can see in the Horsehead Nebula shot). Always some tradeoffs. The Microstar only works with the original ETX (now known as the ETX-90RA or ETX Astro M). It is not required for the EC models.

Subject:	Re: Eyepieces
Sent:	Saturday, April 21, 2001 09:51:15
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Yep, the Eastern Cowbird is common to Colorado and west of Texas....neat
little bird.

You are correct about the 14mm UWA - it is MY favorite eyepiece.  The
reason I did not recommend for the ETX 125 is that, if you do a ray
trace on the eyepiece design with the flow of the focus from the -125,
you will find that you LOOSE about 20% of the light cone as it enters
the eyepiece!  Thus, even though you are gaining a great field (which I
too appreciate), you are loosing some too, at the tune of $300 plus.

The cost is why I did not include, since it DOES NOT provide the exact
field specified by Meade for the eyepiece....if you will notice, they
also do not recommend this eyepiece for the ETX scopes.

The 4.7mm is the best high power unit I have ever used.  I would not
trade that eyepiece for the world.  Normally I cannot use anything
greater than about a 9mm because of eye strain, but this design is
wonderful.  The images are the brightest I have even seen in such a
short focal length eyepiece!

Thanks for your comments....I hope you can see why I did not include
that wonderful 14mm UWA on the ETX recommended list.  Yes, it is
great...but no, it does not provide the advertised apparent field
because of optical design conflicts between the scope and the eyepiece.

good skies!
Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>Greetings.  Thanks once again for the continued flow of info
>and advice.
>I'd be flattered if you did consider my review of the Meade
>UWA 14 mm on Weasner's when you made your "not recommended"
>comment on your recent eyepiece-selection piece.  Yes, it is
>too heavy and it doesn't even fit all the way into the
>holder, BUT, it has become my favorite ep for deep sky
>searches and viewing!  Working further through the
>Herschel-400 list (65 to go), I find that I will go an
>entire night (3-4 hours) and never use anything else.  With
>the '125/AS accuracy, one really needs the field of view of
>similar to the 26 mm S Plossl but some of the H-400 just
>don't show well there.  I have 8 eyepieces from 40 mm to 6.4
>mm with the 2.5 Powermate and have not found a better
>combination for the H-400 tour, which I'd assume would be
>the conclusion for about any deep sky object in the 125 and
>in my moderately dark skies, except for those exceeding the
>field of view or warranting higher magnification (that
>sounds almost too obvious).  I should admit that I haven't
>spent much time on this tour determining what the maximum
>magnification could be on each object, but it sure has given
>me aperture envy.  I noticed that you quietly acquired the
>Also, what happen to your low opinion of short fl
>eyepieces?  You really seem to like the UWA 4.7mm,  Don't
>have that one. Am I going to have go out and buy that now
>Really enjoyed the cow bird story, I think have heard them
>before, but not near here, Boulder.

Subject:	Some Q's
Sent:	Saturday, April 21, 2001 09:25:39
From:	[removed]
Greetings from a Newbie in Brooklyn.  I apologize for the private e-mail
but I wasn't sure if this was appropriate for your feedback page.

I know very little about telescopes but I'd like to surprise my wife
with one.  (She's had a long standing interest in astronomy but has
never owned a scope.)  I've done a bit of research and (thanks in part
to your excellent site) think I've made a decision.  It looks like the
ETX-90/ec fits the bill.  Portability tops the list.  We travel a fair
amount and want to be able to put it in a small case and go.  Easy and
reasonably quick setup are also on the list as is price point.  I'll ask
your advice in two parts:

To get us started (assuming the ETX-90/ec is the way to go) it sounds
like we would need only the scope itself and the AutoStar unit.  I got
the feeling a right angle eye piece is not included though this would
seem like a very useful thing.  Yes?  We have a photo tripod and I
understand an adapter is available from Meade.  (We also have roof
garden with lots of stable supports.)  Am I on the right track?

There seem to be two big sources nearby for purchasing, one being B&H in
Manhattan the other being Focus Camera in Brooklyn.  I didn't get the
feeling either place would offer a heck of lot of after sales service
but they're certainly convenient.  I don't have a problem with mail
order but being so new to this I didn't have any idea as to who might be
reliable or not.  Can you offer a little guidance in this respect?

I'm very excited about this new adventure but if you get a million of
these e-mails, I'll understand if you don't have time to answer (or
answer in detail).

Thanks ever so much.

ps As one G4 owner to another, can you download the upgrades for the
Mike here: The ETX-90EC will make a nice telescope for your purposes. Your photographic tripod will need to be very sturdy to support the ETX to avoid vibrations being induced in the high magnification images. I've seen pretty good reports about B&H Photo. You can also check the dealers listed on the Astronomy Links page. Reports about them are also good. And yes, you can download Autostar updates using a Mac. See the Autostar Information for more info. You will need a USB-serial adapter.

Subject:	GP Mount
Sent:	Friday, April 20, 2001 18:53:27
From:	CAMDRA11@aol.com
Great web page, I'm getting my ETX90 in about a week or so, I have been
looking for info and found your page ( The Mother Load )!!!!!

I have a GP mount/tripod is there any way I can hook up my ETX to it??
Any info you have would be greatly appriciated.

Keep up the great work!!!
Peter Camilloni
Mike here: Search the site for "GP mount" (exact match) and you'll find a couple of references.


I just read some more info you haave, can you send me the assembly
instructions, tech tips and any other info so I can put my ETX 90 on a
GP mount>
Peter C.
Mike here: All the info I have is on the web site. When users send me stuff I post it.

Subject:	ETX-125 cooling time
Sent:	Friday, April 20, 2001 05:56:37
From:	edutton@infi.net (Ells Dutton)
To:	CJones@online-can.com

What you show in your drawing on Mike's site is a classic optical tube
current.  It is always there in my (and I'd bet any other) ETX-125 until
it has stabilized with the outdoor temperature, sometimes taking up to
two hours depending on the temperature difference between where the
scope is stored and the outside temperature.  For published examples of
this, see H. Suiter "Star Testing Astronomical Telescopes", or  P.
Harrington's "Star Ware".

Ells Dutton
Mike here: I hadn't seen that as my cool down times have been minimal living in a mild climate.

And this:

From:	edutton@infi.net (Ells Dutton)
M,  Count your blessings,  you probably don't have cow birds either.

Mike here: Not yet...


Thank you everyone.  I believe you are right.  It is definitely more
prominent before the scope has cooled properly.  Also on the night when
I drew the pictures the temperature had been around 6 C dropping to -2 C
in less than an hour:  I think that scope could not keep up with this
rapid temperature change.

In this hobby I think we worry a lot about whether we are getting the
absolutely best images possible from our equipment and it is reassuring
for someone else to tell you that everything is fine!

Subject:	IT WORKED
Sent:	Friday, April 20, 2001 04:18:03
From:	rrgala@med.wayne.edu (Richard R. Gala)
I finally was able to open the Tutorial Files after much fiddling around
(I am the original "Dummy" that they wrote all those dummy books for)
with the WinZip program that Dick Seymour sent to me.  The Tutorials
were most helpful and I saw at least 2 or 3 places where I was doing the
alignment all wrong.  I have tried for a long time to figure out how to
print the Tutorials so that I could get a hard copy to use at the
telescope.  So far I have failed.  Is there a special trick to doing
this?  I am using the WinZip wizzard version.  Is there any way that I
could get a printed version of the Tutorials?

Mike, I appreciate all your help. I had someone in my area(Detroit)
contact me and we have made an arrangement to get together and set up my
telescope to see if it is me or the telescope that is causing the
problem.  Thanks again.
   Dick Gala 
Mike here: Glad you were able to use the tutorials. As a video-type of presentation, you will loose some content when printing. But to print you could make screen shots and print those images. (Don't ask me how to do that on Windows.)

Subject:	Meade Financial Status
Sent:	Thursday, April 19, 2001 06:41:03
From:	pillows@voyager.net (pillows)
For those interested in Meade's financial status (biz.yahoo.com/bw/010419/0067.html).............

Subject:	Let's talk magnification limits
Sent:	Thursday, April 19, 2001 04:59:13
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
For our group's benefit:  there is a full discussion on magnification and
what to expect in my recent article "Telescope Performance III - How Far Can
I See?  The Myths and Moderations of Magnification", found at
www.weasner.com/etx/buyer-newuser-tips/tp_magnification.html on Mike
Weasner's ETX site.  This explores the moderation that you must exercise
when chosing eyepieces and magnification on any given night.

Every night is different, and there are rare nights when you MIGHT be
able to push 300x to 400x with the LX 90, but the air must be very
still.  I have the 4.7mm UWA and absolutely LOVE this eyepiece. However,
I also understand that its use if VERY limited to only the very
steadiest of nights (see above performance article).  The magification
with the Power Mate 2.5 is an incredible 1,080x!  You don't NEED that
kind of power.....you will not see any more at 1,080 power than you will
see at 423x.....the eye and the air are the limiting factors here, not
the telescope nor its eyepieces.

If you were on the "atmosphere-less" moon, you could use unlimited
magnification with no detrimental side effects....but, of course, we are NOT
on the moon and must suffer the consequences of having this darned air to

Dr. Clay

Subject:	Steve Stanford's offset plate?
Sent:	Thursday, April 19, 2001 02:11:50
From:	jim@streamcheck.com (Jim Parsons)
Any word on how to reach Steven Stanford (formerly at
wolfram@mail.icongrp.com; anyone know how to contact Steven?) I'd love
to get my hands on one of his aluminum offset plates (picture enclosed)
for my Bogen tripod and tripod head.
I just bought an ETX-125 and your site has been invaluable!
Thanks and best regards,
-Jim Parsons
Menlo Park, CA

Mike here: This has come up before. So far no one seems to have been able to reach him. I keep hoping though.

Subject:	Star Test on my ETX 125EC
Sent:	Wednesday, April 18, 2001 10:14:49
From:	CJones@online-can.com (Jones, Clive)
I am wondering whether you or one of your many visitors to your
excellent site could offer some insight into the meaning of my star

I drew these diagrams after carefully observing Capella last night with
a 9.6mm eye-piece.  I have exaggerated the effect in the diagrams, for
clarity.  This problem has not just surfaced but being the optimist that
I am, I was hoping that the problem would just go away!  Funny how that
never seems to happen.  Anyway, the first diagram is less than a quarter
turn of the focus knob anticlockwise (intra-focus), the second one is
the same amount clockwise and the final image is how a BRIGHT star
appears in focus.

The telescope seems well collimated, there are good diffraction rings,
concentric with no observable errors (except for the obvious one I am
trying to get to the bottom of here!).  Also, diffraction rings are
visible when a bright star is in focus but there are breaks that match
the shape of the flare.

Interesting things to note are:

1) The in focus flare is only visible on a bright star.  The in focus
diagram is almost exactly how Capella would look, for instance.
2) The defect seems to be temperature dependent... on colder nights (
-8C) the defect is almost non-existent but becomes more apparent as the
temperature rises above 0C  (Warm is a very relative term in winter in
3) The anomaly in the pattern does not seem to significantly grow (and
is hence not visible) as you move the focus to a more extreme
intra-focus or extra-focus.  It is most visible with less than a quarter
turn clockwise or anti clockwise from true focus.  Just to emphasise: 
this is only prominently visible very close to true focus (just as the
black "hole" caused by the secondary mirror is becoming visible).
4)  The in-focus flare is visible in all eyepieces and does not rotate
if I rotate the eyepiece.

Any thoughts?  My personal theory is that the primary mirror is probably
under stress and this stress changes as it expands or contracts with
change in temperature.  If you agree with this deduction, from the
diagrams, is it possible to make a guess as to where on the mirror the
stress is occurring?

Thanks and clear skies,

Clive Jones (Winnipeg, MB)
star test

Mike here: Does this happen with other eyepieces as well? If not, I would suspect the eyepiece. However, its shape does tend to indicate that something is not aligned right. But you say that as you move further out-of-focus you see nice concentric rings. One test you might try is to use the eyepiece at the rear port. If you don't have an adapter for use there trying holding it in position. As you move the eyepiece forward and backward do you see this effect? Like you I wonder if the flip mirror is the culprit. This test removes the flip mirror. One other test. With the eyepiece in the normal (top) position, get the image slightly out of focus to see the pattern. The rotate the eyepiece; does the orientation of the pattern move with the eyepiece?

Subject:	Re: help and support
Sent:	Tuesday, April 17, 2001 16:07:15
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Don -
Good luck with your scope and I hope that all goes well with it....be
sure and give us an update on Mike's site, as I am curious how good a
job Meade did and perhaps what they found.  Be sure and RESET and
RETRAIN!  (then calibrate).

clear skies -
Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Don
     Hi Clay,
     I'll follow your instructions and thanks for all the help and
     support.  Mike should have a donation page dedicated to you!

     Clear Skies, Don
Mike here: We do a lot of this support as a "labor of love". Pledges to the Site and Clay's Tuneup Service help defray costs associated with those activities, as appropriate.

Subject:	Polar Aligning- why?
Sent:	Tuesday, April 17, 2001 15:44:56
From:	nmbolton@msn.com (James Bolton)
What is the advantage to polar aligning the telescope instead of just
using Alt/Az mode (it is much, much easier) when using autostar??
Mike here: For many users, Alt/Az is the perfect setup when using the Autostar. Many telescope/tripod combinations are more stable this way. However, others find that Polar offers more accurate tracking with less motor vibration (only the RA motor is running). Other considerations as to which mounting mode to use are is the object viewable in that mounting mode or does the OTA strike the base first, and whether you plan to do long duration astrophotography (polar is required unless you have a field derotator).

Subject:	Pollen Alert
Sent:	Tuesday, April 17, 2001 06:32:49
From:	rpl@ronleo.com (Ron Leo)
Thanks once again for the wonderful site.  I hope Meade is adequately
compensating you!!!

For those who have not read Clay Sherrod's Pollen Alert under "Alerts"
dated 4/9/01, PLEASE DO!  Unfortunately I did not and may have caused
some damage to the optics of my ETX70.  I'm cleaning the scope today
with Clay's (pat. pending) Pollen Cleaning Procedure and hoping for the


Subject:	optics
Sent:	Tuesday, April 17, 2001 02:45:53
From:	mlua@sunlife.com
I was wondering if you know about converting my scope's (ETX) optics to
a 50X 'magnifying glass'?

Thanks and more power!

Subject:	unZIPping files
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 21:50:03
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (richard seymour)
A very friendly program for dealing with "zip" files is


Visit www.winzip.com  for a "free' (shareware) download which will
work very well (even before you send money...  it'll just keep
begging).  If/when you -do- pay for WinZip, he'll send along update
floppies for a year or two...

it's a great program, and double-clicking on Zip files just
 makes them arrive and unpack painlessly...

Subject:	wildlife
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 17:52:12
From:	FAIC0N25@aol.com
I was searching thru your sight and didnt see alot of wildlife photos I
would like to add to them Here is a pic of a Downy Wood Pecker taken
with the ETX and a Canon Rebel X Range was about 40 yardsand was shot
04/14/01 in middle TN
  Thank You

Subject:	SOLD!
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 16:07:39
From:	Denali2000@MediaOne.net (Clay Hornbuckle)
Good Day Mike!  I've sold the ETX-90EC to a gentleman in Florida.  (I'm
so envious of his location.  He has totally dark skies!  Gotta love this
MIchigan weather!)  So I am informing you officially to please take my
ad off your site and let everyone know it has been sold.  I feel a
little bad because Clay Sherrod didn't see the "For Sale" addition to
your site and he wanted to buy one for his troops.  But I did leave this
interesting URL on his email reply.  Check this out:


That's right!!  $428 bucks until they run out.  Natural Wonders is going
out of business!!  Catch 'em while you can!

Thanks alot Mike!
Clay Hornbuckle

Subject:	ETX for Terrestrial Viewing.
Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 11:39:46
From:	robert@sphereboy.com (Robert Meireles)
I use my ETX 90 EC mainly for terrestrial viewing. First of all, if you
can give me some general rules of thumb that would be great.

The main reason for me writing to you is this, Is there any type of
filter out there that would protect me from the sun being reflected of
an object on the ground. Let's say i'm viewing something and it so
happens that the Sun reflects of the object for a split second going
into my telescope. I want to avoid this. Any suggestions?


Mike here: Well, I am not aware of any filter for any camera or telescope that will protect you from this and still allow you to see through it. So, just as you have to be careful with cameras and binoculars, so do you with a telescope.

Sent:	Monday, April 16, 2001 06:06:00
From:	rrgala@med.wayne.edu (Richard R. Gala)
Sorry to bother you again.  I tried to download the Tutorials from your
site as you suggested both last night and again this morning and after
some time of downloading I got the message...There is no script engine
for file extension"zip".  I am not too swift with this computor stuff
and do not understand what this means or know where to go from here.
Dick Gala
Mike here: Sounds like you need to download a copy of the Unzip program. Search the web (not my site) for this or go to the bottom of the Autostar Information page on my ETX site and download the StuffIt Expander for Windows. I believe it will unzip (the Mac version does).

Subject:	Hello again.
Sent:	Sunday, April 15, 2001 20:58:20
From:	dto@home.com (Daniel T. Ostheimer)
I purchased a Meade zoom eyepiece and if you flip it over you can feel
some elements move around.  This is the case if you shake it carefuly up
and down. I think it is some glass anyhow, is this normal? The eyepiece
works great with my limited use of it. With light poluted sky in my
area, I do like the contrast better than my 32mm, 24mm and the 9.7mm.
You are correct on the aberration, but I like how the sky gets a little
darker with the zoom. I sold my 9.7 and barlow due to this. I like the
fact that I can use my right eye and not hit the view finder. I own a
125 and love it.
Mike here: No, this is not normal. Check the eyepiece tube and ring inside the end of the tube. All should be tight with no rattling.

Subject:	Thanks for the Response
Sent:	Sunday, April 15, 2001 16:15:03
From:	DowlingGary@aol.com
Thanks for the response. Your site is great, I am learning a ton from
the info contained within - for use with my new ETX90. Reading the FAQs,
notes from other users, and your response/guiodance has saved me a lot
of time and headaches. Thanks for all the effort you put into the
collection of this valuable information.

Subject:	Northern lights in France
Sent:	Sunday, April 15, 2001 03:30:42
From:	denis.joye1@libertysurf.fr (Denis JOYE)
We are very lucky for the moment  with the intense solar activity.
Though this topic is not directly related to ETX,  let me share pictures
I took a few days ago, of a northern lights phenomenon ( very unusual at
our lattitudes) wich occurred just near Paris on 11th April.  It was my 
first seing of northern lights and I was as so excited to assist this
phenomenon as I was during the last solar eclipse of august 1999.

Pictures are available at:


Best regards
Denis JOYE

Subject:	Re: setting circles in the Southern Hemisphere
Sent:	Sunday, April 15, 2001 02:38:20
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Dave
Although there is no bright star signifying the approximate position of
the south celestial pole as there is the NCP, you CAN align accurately
by using the "drift method" as described in the Meade instruction manual
(page 24, appendix C).  For casual use, however, the best thing to do is

1) rough align using a compass;

2) offset in the direction for your known magnetic declination (you can
get that from your closest airport or marine shipping port) using a
"guessatment" and your finder field (See "Kochab's Clock" under
Observation Guides on Mike's site) and noting carefully the stars that
you see in the finder;

3)  NOW....tweak the telescope and base assembly as described in
"Kochab's Clock" until you get your setting circles aimed precisely on
some bright star overhead;

4)  using your circles, note the declination of the star (assuming that
your setting circle read a correct "0" degree when your scope was
level!).  If the setting circle does NOT read the correct known
declination of the star, then adjust the base (NOT the clamps and
telescope axes) until it does read that coordinate and still you have
the star in the field of view;

5)  now go back and sketch the field you see in the finder so that you
will have a future reference; the CENTER of the finder is likely aimed
pretty close to SCP, and you should note the relative stars (and the
fact that they WILL rotate as the night goes on and each successive day.
 (this rotation is discussed fully under Observation Guide...."Kochab's

Good luck!  Starry nights and bright comets!

Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
I enjoyed your piece on Mike's site about using setting circles. While
my Autostar is on the blink, I would like to use this as an opportunity
to learn to function without it.  Could you confirm that there is really
no way to use a polar alignment, and hence the setting circles, for
those of us who are in the Southern Hemisphere?

Thanks and regards,

Mike here: There is a faint star sort of near of the SCP. It is Sigma Octans (also known as Polaris Australis). It is a Magnitude 5.5 star located at 21h 48m 46.7s and 88d 57m 23s.


From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Mike - thanks, good point.  That star is also visible in the 8 x 21
finderscope, although very faintly; once known and recognized, that
would be the star to use for polar offset.  Very good point.

Thanks, Mike.  I had heard of this star also, but it seems like it is
extremely low on our horizon and we may not be able to see it from our


Subject:	Polar Aligning ETX 125 When you live down South
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 23:59:14
From:	cweaks@email.com (Carl Weaks)
I'm looking for help.  I recently became the proud owner of an ETX
125EC.  Though I've already had some wonderful though sleepless nights
looking at the wonders of the night sky, I would like to take it further
and do some astrophotography.  This is where my problem comes in.  I
live near Ft. Lauderdale in South Florida.  Our latitude, just a few
hundred miles from Cuba, is 26.  When I set my Meade 883 tripod to
match, I have no room to maneuver the scope up or down.  I certainly
could not attach a camera to it.  I'm very new at this, so possibly I'm
doing something all wrong.  As I said, I'm looking for help and after
studying your site for a while, I decided this was the place to come. 
There seems to be a wealth of knowledge about ETX scopes just waiting to
be tapped.

Carl Weaks
Mike here: As you've discovered, mounting a telescope equatorially at low latitudes really tilts the polar axis way over towards the ground. This puts things not only at awkward angles (and increasing instability) but you will find that you can not observe objects low on the Southern horizon because the telescope tube touches the base when trying for those low Declinations. When mounted in Alt/Az mode you have none of these problems but long duration astrophotography (piggyback or prime focus) can't be done without adding some extra equipment (something to derotate the field of view).


Thank you for the fast response.  What did you mean when you said,
"adding some extra equipment (something to derotate the field of view)",
and give me some examples if you could?
Mike here: In Alt/Az mounting, stars will move around the field-of-view in a circular motion as the telescope tracks the sky movement in Right Ascension. To compensate for this you need what is known as "field derotator". You can see one described on Meade's LX200 accessories page. To mount on an ETX-125EC you will need a SCT adapter (see the Accessories - Miscellaneous page). Since I do not have a field derotator, I can not say whether this combination will work with the ETX-125EC and a camera.

Subject:	My comment on Clay's response to 'Light Block Shields'
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 19:41:27
From:	marbla@naisp.net (Blais Klucznik)
Thought I would give my personal experience with a somewhat different
re-action that I received about a similar problem in my hometown,
Attleboro MA, located about 25 miles SSW of Boston.

Very recently the city installed two high-intensity large spotlights on
city owned telephone poles on a street somewhat adjacent to our
property.  These spotlights are angled at about 10 degrees from being
purely horizontal.  It appears to be to light up two very small business
buildings that have been there for about 25 years.  These buildings were
built in adjacent lots about 25 years ago, 7 years after my house was
built for us.  At the time of our purchase this land was zoned for
residential but the first 150 feet adjacent to the road angled off my
street was re-zoned 5 years later as a small commercial zone in spite of
my neighbors and our protest.

The size of the small business buildings are not much larger than a
moderate sized home, about 35 feet by 50 feet.  They are small buildings
with a small parking lot, about 10 cars.  Yet I, my wife and fellow
taxpayers subsidize this business by allowing city-owned and taxpayer
financed telephone poles, two of them, to be used to improperly light up
not only their buildings but many homes a moderate distance away.  Ours,
for instance, is about 400-450 feet away but I can clearly almost read
in my home at night from this lighting alone.  So far, sad to say, the
city has felt under no obligation to take ANY steps to correct or even
evaluate this situation.

In any case I did speak to civil authorities and thus far got absolutely
nowhere.  The fact that these improperly directed lights are lighting up
our house, driveway and interior of our home have, thus far, fallen on
deaf ears.  If the spotlights were adjusted to shine on the small
companies' buildings and very small parking area we would experience no
problem.  Yet here we stand.  There really doesn't seem to be any other
step my wife and I, as citizen and tax-payers, can take.

So I read, with interest, Clay's note on 'Light Block Shields' but find
that the city, at least my city, does not have to really be concerned
with a citizen's so-called privilege unless it becomes a matter of
danger to life or non-payment of taxes.
Mike here: Sorry to hear about your difficulty. You might want to look over the IDA web site and see if you can find some information that might be of some help. You will probably have to go to a city council type of meeting to get a proper hearing. If that doesn't work, try the newspaper. Try to find a sympathetic reporter. You can always try the approach that the lighting makes it easier for a burglar to work at your home since he (or she) won't have to use a flashlight, and therefore won't be as obvious to a passerby.


I have already talked to several neighbors and did receive very positive
results.  It is just unfortunate that those neighbors who have the
special high intensity omnidirectional, and rather obscene, light
fixtures simply will not even discuss the situation with me.  They
simply feel it is their right to light up those devices and that simply
is that. Reason seems to be something that is not within their grasp.

I have been to the IDA site numerous times and have attached a tidbit of
a related note for your perusal and to understand to some degree what
folks as myself have to deal with in our glorious state.

I am looking at some of the portable observatory tents that I might be
able to use in order to reduce this pollution but in some cases, without
some neighbor's assistance, would be of no help unless I closed all the
tent's opening flaps with a special telescope filter that would block
out ALL light.

I realize that many people around the country, and world, are dealing
with the same problem.

It is an interesting point that the more capitalism is able to isolate
each person from the other there is a proportional lack of concern shown
for other people.  Remember Sir we do have the 1st Amendment, don't we.
Mike here: Well, maybe they should consider that the energy supply isn't infinite, as many in California have discovered...

Subject:	Re: Aligning the viewfinder
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 15:00:13
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Paul 
Yes, you can align that way, but it is much more trouble than it is
worth.  By the time you finished observing the first night, the finder
will likely be askew anyway!  Actually, you can align your finder right
now by putting onto the scope and aiming the telescope looking out a
window or porch at some distant terrestrial object; focus on the object
(by turning out the focus knob on your scope) and then center the object
at high power; clamp the scope firmly (but do not cinch).

Now merely tweak the little black plastic set screws until the
crosshairs (align one in vertical and the other in horizontal) converge
exactly on your target; check frequently to make sure it is still
centered in the scope.

That's all there is to it....the finder set screws are so flexible that
attempting a permanent and precise alignment like you obviously are
capable of doing is just not worth the effort.  Finderscopes and keeping
them collimated to the main scope will drive you crazy!  It's one of
those little "thorns" that makes this such an enjoyable hobby!

Hope your Alaskan skies clear soon!

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>If one wants to align the viewfinder, and wants to do so indoors (bench
>aligned), ideally, at what distance from the front end of the scope
>should the reference target grid be? And, what should the horizontal
>offset be in the viewfinder?
>The distance between the optics (viewfinder and the eyepiece), and the
>distance to the viewed object, defines the angular separation of the
>two, and with the formula, you can accomplish this procedure. I know
>there's a formula, but I don't remember it.
>More cloudy skies forecast for tonight and tomorrow. :(
>Thank you.
>Clear skies, and dark nights!
Mike here: I usually just work with the front or rear screws. Loosen them, leaving the ones at the other end tight. Then it is pretty easy to slowly move the object into the center of the finderscope field-of-view. One other point. Don't put the object EXACTLY on the crosshairs; you will end up covering that faint star you're looking for. When aligning the finderscope I put the object in one of the corners made by the X of the crosshairs.

Subject:	RA slipping on ETX-60AT
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 11:22:22
From:	mpainter@epix.net (M. Painter)
I have noticed when using the ETX-60AT that the Right Ascension does not
always engage when slewing.  I have not forced the clamp in the center
of the mount in any way; it simply gently grips just before the stop. It
is hard against the stop when clamped.  My feeling is that some
readjustment is needed so that the RA clamp more securely locks the RA
movement; as it is now, it is very easy to turn the scope in RA even
with the clamp locked.  I have a feeling this is why it sometimes does
not slew in RA in the field.  Is there a way to readjust the point at
which the RA clamp starts to grip?  Many thanks.

Mark Painter
Dallas, PA
Mike here: This has gotten to be a common question so I should probably put the answer on the FAQ page. Position the lever to the locked position (don't overdue it), loosen the setscrew in the side of the lock handle, lift the handle and reposition it more to the unlock direction, and then retighten the setscrew. Now you should have more distance to move the lock lever to lock the axis.


Thanks for the quick and very helpful response.  Your web site is


Subject:	Dr Dave from South Africa
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 10:40:01
From:	drdave@infosat.co.za (drdave kaplan)
thanx for a great site
I have used your info to really advance my astronomy
Just a suggestion
Why not have a an area on your web site devoted to star hops thru
different constellations We are all using autostar and it would be great
to see how say someone like Clay Sherrod approaches a tour thru Orion

Thanx DrDave Kaplan 
Mike here: Thanks for the suggestion. I'll post any "tours" on the User Observations page.

Subject:	Classifieds
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 09:53:37
From:	tom@icon2.com (Icon2 Computers Inc.)
I noticed that you had a classifieds section on your site (Awesome site
by the way!). I would like to offer the services of my website to your
users regarding classifieds, it is located at
http://www.scopetrader.com. This site is free for all astronomy
enthusiasts and dealers, It was started to promote a friendlier place
for people to trade or sell off their equipment and to share
experiences, it is very young still, but all is working and I would be
happy to promote your site as well in return, please let me know if this
interest's you and thank you for your time.

Thomas Maxwell
Icon2 Computers Inc.

Subject:	Natural Wonders
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 04:48:36
From:	jwlk3@ix.netcom.com (Joe Walker)
I've seen several post concerning the going out of business sale at
Natural Wonders. Your readers should be aware that Natural Wonders
should double check the charges that appear on their credit cards. I was
charged more than the price listed on their website. I contacted my
credit card company and they will adjust the disputed charges.

It is impossible to contact them via phone or email if there is a
problem. Their phone message states that if there is a problem and a
refund is expected, the request must go through the bankruptcy court
(translating into no refund).

Joe Walker

Subject:	A.r. strip
Sent:	Saturday, April 14, 2001 04:03:56
From:	savoia@unive.it (Manuela Savoia)
compliments for your beautifull  ETX  page.
I have two ETX ,  the 90 and the 125 . Whit  this 5 "  I have a problem
whit the strip of the A.R. :it i too slack and came of from the main
body of the scope : what to do?
Thank' you and  saluti from.Vence
Mike here: The Right Ascension Setting Circle has its two ends glued together. You can slip it back into the track in which it slides and reglue it. DO NOT glue it so tightly that it will not move. Also, do not glue it to the base. The R.A. Setting is meant to be moved in its track by hand to set it at the start of an observing session (assuming you use it).


I am very happy with my two etx ( 90 and 125 ) Venice is not so ligth
polluted especially  looking at east . So I can see many Messier object
fom my window that is  near to the Rialto bridge an not too far from S.
Marco where Galileo  presented the telescope  in front to the neblemen
of the Repubblica
 Ciao,      Francesco Rizzoli  ( hausband of Manuela Savoia)

Subject:	Light Polution
Sent:	Friday, April 13, 2001 21:20:45
From:	Canoe007@aol.com
Great site.  I've been reading it for a while now.

Quick question -- does light pollution appear to be worse in the spring?
I bought my EXT-125 in November and it seems the light pollution during
the November to February period wasn't as bad as it is now.  Either I'm
imagining things, or the warm air does something to make the light
pollution worse.  (Perhaps it's as simple as the warm air bringing out
more people at night thereby increasing the number of cars on the road.)
Any thoughts?
Mike here: Atmospheric conditions can affect sky brightness. More moisture in the air can mean there is more material which can reflect lights on the ground. So, yes, it is possible that Spring skies can appear brighter than Winter skies. Of course, there are many other factors as well including longer twilight.

Subject:	Meade TriPod Bag
Sent:	Friday, April 13, 2001 15:12:24
From:	DowlingGary@aol.com
Mike, saw your review of the ETX70AT. Cool TriPod Bag from Meade. Can
these be purchased? Do you know of a source? I have the Deluxe Field
model. Thanks, Gary
Mike here: I haven't seen them offered separately but have seen some similar tripod bags in the Orion Telescopes & Binoculars printed catalog. You can probably find them on their web site.

Subject:	Re: Light Block Shields described in your article
on your observing deck
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2001 19:17:42 From: sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod) To: Dick Asking for shields on your lights is a priviledge you have as a homeowner or apartement dweller; the city has an obligation to provide safety and comfort in residence for every person in that city; all that is required is to draw up some maps showing the locations of the lights, where you are located (it helps if you put your bedroom in glare's way too) and simply demonstrate that the lights are impeding on YOUR ability to maintain your lifestyle, which is, in your opinion, free of extraneous and intrusive light during nighttime hours. By law, you are just as much entitled to DARK sky as your neighbor is to LIGHTED sky at night, perhaps even more. Offer to pay for the shields (they clip on with springs) or even some flat black paint that city workers could spray INSIDE the street light globes in YOUR DIRECTION. Make a point that the lights need to fall on the STREETS where it belongs, and not into your windows and intrude on your nighttime solitude. Reason and courtesy work wonders here. Clay Sherrod -----Original Message----- >Dear Dr. Sherrod, > >I have recently taken an interest in astronomy, having moved to Rapid City, >SD, and bought an ETX-90C. I have been reading all I can, and have found >the weasner.com site most informative. My backyard sits on a plateau, and >would seem to be a great place for stargazing, but there are two or three >street lights that shine into the yard. I was intrigued by your mention of >light block shields used in your neighborhood. Can you provide any detail. >I'd like to be able to know what to ask for in going to the local >authorities. Thanks. > >Dick
Mike here: Visit the International Dark-Sky Association web site for more information. My ETX Site is a proud to be a supporter of their worthwhile efforts.


Mike - very good heads-up idea.  That is an excellent source of
information and active sky preservation activities and ideas.  Thanks
for remembering that.

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Inherent problem?
Sent:	Thursday, April 12, 2001 19:01:59
From:	stdarrah@ee.net (Stephen Darrah)
I have sold a Meade ETX 90RA. The person who has bought it is
complaining that the secondary baffle on the corrector plate has
shifted. Is this an inherent problem with this particular scope? Meade
says they can fix this problem but I was wondering if there was anybody
else that can fix thisat a more reasonable rate?
Thanks for the info, Steve. (stdarrah@ee.net)
Mike here: Some early models of the original ETX (now called the ETX-90RA) could have this occur (mine did). Meade is the best source of a repair since the optics need to realigned following the repair.


Thanks for the information and the quick reply. I enjoyed your website
and all the information that is available on it. Thanks again, Steve.

Subject:	alignin a digital camera to the eypeice if a etx 90ec
Sent:	Thursday, April 12, 2001 16:27:11
From:	andru@btinternet.com (andrew sprott)
i wan't to post a message on your site regardin the above subject. the
thing is, i just can't get the camera centered over the eyepeice. i've
got a camera moutin kit that attaches to the base of the barrel. and on
the top of the mountin which fits around the barrel, is a disk with
several holes allowin for adjustment.

then connected to the disk is a bar which the camera holder attaches to.
i thought of gettin someone to make me a round disc with a hole the same
size as the cameras lens. then fit the disc over the eyepeice and
hopefully the camera should fit in place.

problem is where can i get a disc made. but i've attached a photo of the
moon i took last week. but maybe other people have found solutions.

thanks and may i say, i've just bought my scope and i spent about 15
minutes just lookin at jupiter, but my eyes couldn't adapt with the
lights around the horizon, and couldn't make sense of any other objects.
but i'm orf to a much darker place in the middle of gnowhere

andrew sprott

Mike here: Don't know if anyone will be able to help with the camera adapter. You might want to consider a different adapter if you can't make yours work; see the Accessories - Astrophotography page on my ETX site. You didn't indicate what kind of camera and whether you were using an eyepiece. If using an eyepiece along with the camera lens (known as "afocal photography", or less correctly but still getting the concept across as "eyepiece projection"), then you might want to zoom the camera lens to increase the size of the image or use the macro function if the camera has this.

Subject:	Mike - Natural Wonders Going Out of Business
Sent:	Thursday, April 12, 2001 12:24:21
From:	DowlingGary@aol.com
Been looking for an ETX 90 for some time, stumbled across Natural
Wonders "Going Out of Business".

Just bought

ETX 90	$428
Autostar #497 $0.01 (yes 1 penny with ETX 90)
Deluxe TriPod #883 $0.01 (yes 1 penny with ETX or $49 alone)
Hard Carry Case #774     $57
2x Barlow # 126 $30 

Thought you and your site would be a good source to get the info out.

Thanks for being a great resource to ETX "newbies". 


Subject:	Declination scale
Sent:	Thursday, April 12, 2001 09:55:53
From:	ARottal@gmx.de (Arno)
There is a picture attached. As you see it's the Dec scale. Now I want
to know if the scale has the right position. My Etx 90 EC stands
horizontally on the picture. I thought that the little triangle points
to 0 and not to 50 when the etx stands horizontally . I don't know if
it's normal or not. If its not normal please tell me how I can fix the

I also want to know if my etx could be damaged due to the temperature
(differences between cold and warm), because I put down my Etx in the
summerhouse in the garden and its not very well isolated.

Thanks for your help
Arno Rottal
DEC scale

Mike here: Please see the FAQ online for the answer to your DEC scale question. As to temperature, I would not subject it to hot temps for long periods of time. Remember, this is a quality optical instrument. Temperature extremes should be avoided, just like with cameras and stereos.


From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Arno -
thank you for writing.  Mike Weasner was correct in his fix for your
declination setting circle; you CAN loosen the lock on the circle (this
is the smooth knob on the LEFT fork arm as you are at the back of the
telescope) it is very tight, but it is not fixed; use a piece of rubber
(like a jar lid gripper) to get a good grip on the knob and unscrew
it....then put the circle in place (0 degrees with your ETX tube
perfectly level  - use a bubble level) and tighten the knob back up
pretty tight (DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN as this will strip out the trunion
screw) to secure.  You MUST hold the setting circle in place while you
tighten or it will want to rotate to another reading.

On your question about eyepiece projection photography, the Meade camera
adapter for the ETX does not allow anything but "Prime focus" through
the telescope, or about 25x with the ETX 90 (divide 50mm into your focal
length of the telescope to determine the actual magification at prime
focus).  You might try the "afocal method" by mounting your camera on a
tripod and shooting directly into an eyepiece; set camera lens at
infinity and focus telescope into camera; there are adapters available
for this setup (see Mike Weasner's site under "Product Showcase."

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
>I have a question conserning my Etx 90 EC.
>I asked Mike Weasner, but he told me to see the FAQ online, but I can't
>a solution.
>There is a picture of my problem in the attachment.
>The Etx stands horizontally with the tube. I thought that the little
>triangle at the Dec scale should point to 0 and not to 50 when it stands
>Mike told me to rotate the lock to loosen it and then rotate the scale with
>the finger.
>But I only can rotate the lock on the other fork arm on the etx where no
>degrees are.
>The side of the fork arm where the scale with the deegres is (like in the
>is fix. I can't rotate the scale with my finger.
>What shall i do ?
>My second question is if you could use different magnification with the
>camera adapter and the eyepiece projection. I use the camera adapter and a
>Canon T60.
>Thanks for helping
>Arno Rottal

Subject:	help on etx
Sent:	Thursday, April 12, 2001 08:12:53
From:	charless@turbopower.com (Charles Suscheck)
I've read you techtips for the etx tuneup.  I just don't understand the
part about trunions. What is a trunion? If it is the dowel-like part
that holds the scope in the forks, I'd understand. If this is the part
you're talking about, I'm not sure how to get teflon tape around this
area.  In other words, what do I disassemble?

I just bought my etx and it does have a lot up up and down play, even
when the clamp tight.  It is mainly noticed if you push on the eyepiece
end of the scope and not as prominent if you push on the lense end of
the scope.

Dr Charles Suscheck
Software Architect, New Business Development
TurboPower Software Company

Subject:	Meade ETX Supercharge(c) Telescope Tuneup
Sent:	Thursday, April 12, 2001 00:16:49
From:	pol@alaska.net (Paul Loughman)
[Mike here: this is an EDITED VERSION; some technical details were
removed for space]

I received my ETX 125EC today, from Dr. Sherrod. I sent him my scope for
his "Supercharge Tuneup." I have not yet taken it outside (it's overcast
tonight), but I just wanted others to know that I believe this service
is well worth having done, even on a new scope.

My scope was brand new. I've been visiting your web site regularly since
I discovered it shortly after purchasing my scope. I am particularly
interested in what Dr. Sherrod has to say, and have printed out each of
his posts. I was reading, and learning, about the mechanical issues that
afflict the ETX 125EC with interest. I paid good money for my scope, and
wanted it to be 'as good as it was intended to be.' So when Dr. Sherrod
posted his offer to perform the "supercharge tuneup," I jumped at the
opportunity, and sent him my scope.

I sent him the scope on the 2nd of April. It was received on the 4th (I
sent it 2nd Day Air via UPS), finished and on its way back to me on the
9th. His service summary follows:

The optics in your telescope rank among the finest I have seen in the
ETX series; exceptionally crisp and clear. collimation is excellent and
all optical surfaces are undamaged or marred. Your finder and eyepiece
were cleaned and also checked for collimation.

Your mounting is EXTREMELY STIFF IN RA ASCENSION and will be so for some
time, until you have had the opportunity to use it and "break it in." Do
not become concerned about this....it is very common. This will cause a
bit of "drag" or delay at your slower slewing speeds at first, but the
more the scope is use, the better this will become.

I had much trouble at first activating the RA GO TO and tracking drives.
Upon investigating, I found that a big lump of grease had been smeared
over the RA optical encoder! (see below) This was carefully removed and
the encoder was reset.

Your RA clamp is adjusted accordingly; make sure that you TIGHTEN FIRMLY
to engage the tracking/slewing motor, or it will not engage. NEVER
OVERTIGHTEN this clamp as it will break. The gear train in the azimuth
(RA) drive is the newest Meade version and much improved over previous

The DEC (altitude) axis is not so tight and is very, very responsive,
even in the slowest speed modes. Again, firm clamping, but DO NOT
overtighted on the ETX 125.

OVERALL, the telescope was tested for tracking after motor train and
accurate alignment on the observatory pier. Using Ac/DC converted power
of 15.2 V (Meade #541 adapter), your telescope tracked a target star
near the Zenith at 404x (4.7mm eyepiece) for 40 minutes with a slight RA
drift eastward, which is exceptionally good. With internal batteries
installed, it tracked another near-zenith star for about 22 minutes with
eastward drift. NOTE: eastward drift indicates a slight decrease from
true sidereal speed, this characteristic of ALL Meade telescopes.

NOTES: Paul, this telescope was literally COVERED in grease in both
axes. I took everything apart and cleaned thoroughly and applied 0-grade
Lithium (cold-resistant for your temperature extremes) to all moving

ENJOY THE TELESCOPE! Be sure and "work" the RA axis to begin loosening
it up....it may take a while. It's a great scope and should give you
years of enjoyment.

Your AutoStar is PACKED with 30,087 objects, 201 satellites, 58
asteroids, 136 comets and all your locations! A complete RESET and
two-step "TRAIN MOTORS" has your scope locked on; your Alt & Az
percentages are now loaded to reflect your new telescope; as it beak
in.....LOWER these settings, particularly that in AZIMUTH!

A complete 83-point (yes, 83-point!) comprehensive inspection checklist
was also provided. This identifies all 83 items in the supercharge
tuneup. Each item marked as to whether it was "OK" or "NOT" when
inspected (and therefore, what needed correcting).

WOW! All for $150.00 plus shipping. My total price, including shipping
both directions, was just under $300.00 (shipping is expensive from/to
Alaska). I've spent that much on service for my car, and not received
any where near this kind of feedback on what was done! For me, this was
a BARGAIN! And now I have the "diamond" of a scope that I paid for.

Just because you buy a new scope, does not mean that you are getting a
perfect scope. Mine did not have any of the serious maladies described
and posted here, but it was still, even new, a freshly cut raw diamond,
yet to be polished into the gem it could become. Dr. Sherrod has
recognized the brilliance that these raw gems contain, and has brought
out the brilliance in it that this telescope is capable of becoming.

My hats off to you, Dr. Sherrod! Excellent service. I couldn't ask for

Paul O. Loughman
From: Clay Sherrod [sherrodc@ipa.net]
Hi Paul, and thank you so much for the wonderful statement you sent to
Mike Weasner....he wrote last night to  see if it was okay by me to post
it.  I appreciate it, and I very much hope you enjoy the scope.

Regarding good books....for learning the sky and for the BEST reference
to keep with your telescope, there is no better than A FIELD GUIDE TO
THE STARS AND PLANETS, part of the "Peterson Field Guide" series and
available in every bookstore; you will find the sky charts indispensable
and the reference section equally good.

There are some great books out there, but Mike's book review section
really has the ones that are pertinent for apertures as ours, so check
out those reviews, so good and some not so good.

Good luck and clear skies!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	Autoguiders For ETX 90-EC
Sent:	Tuesday, April 10, 2001 21:03:55
From:	taylorloykasek@juno.com (Taylor J Loykasek)
Are there any autoguiders that would work with my ETX 90-EC and
Autostar? I really don't care how it connects, it could connect directly
to the telescope or possibly connect to my laptop and then connect the
Autostar to my laptop and have the laptop run them both. Do you know of
any that will work? If so, could you provide me with a webpage or
somewhere that has more information on this or sells an Autoguider like
this? Thank you,

Taylor Loykasek
Sumner, WA
Mike here: Search the site for "autoguid" and you'll find some references to autoguiders and autoguiding. Let us know how the results work out if you get one.

Subject:	Dew shields
Sent:	Tuesday, April 10, 2001 19:54:45
From:	BOBCATH28@email.msn.com (ROBERT DEROUIN)
Can you suggest a very fine dew shield for a 5" Meade ETX scope??  Thank
you for your help.
 Bob Derouin   
Mike here: You might want to check out the homemade ones on the Telescope Tech Tips page. Also, check the Accessories - Miscellaneous page.

Subject:	Using Minolta Maxxum with ETX 90....
Sent:	Tuesday, April 10, 2001 05:22:21
From:	rlkoller@sheltonbbs.com (Leslie K. Koller)
To:	dashmanc@idt.net
I read your comments on Weasner's Mighty ETX page concerning using a
Minolta Maxxum camera with the ETX 90.  Am I right then to assume my
Minolta Maxxum STsi will not work with this scope?  It hooks up fine,
but the shutter just won't work. I have used a Canon EOS Rebel on the
scope and had much success with it.

Thanks for your time!

Leslie K Koller
Portageville, Missouri
Mike here: I have no familiarity with this camera. Not certain what you mean about the shutter not working. If you mean that it can't do an auto-exposure through the telescope, that is true of many cameras. If you mean you can't take exposures of several seconds or minutes in length, then that could be because the camera either can't do it or because there is no "B" (Bulb) setting on the shutter speed dial.


SFrom:	dashmanc@earthlink.net (Carl Dashman)
It depends on the camera.  Minolta builds a "safety" feature into most
of the Maxxum line, that you cannot fire the shutter unless an
intelligent lense is attached--the Maxxum AF series or the aftermarkets
by Sigma or Tamron.  The Minolta telescope adapter is simply a machined
hunk of metal, so it won't work. HOWEVER, all is not lost.  Many of the
Maxxum series have a bypass procedure, usually requiring three hands and
20 fingers.  Some work by turning the camera on while holding a number
of buttons down at the same time.  Some may have a menu that allows it. 
I have a 3xi and there is NO bypass at all--it just cannot be used for
that.  I bought an older Maxxum 7000 and it has no safety on the shutter
whatsoever and works wonderfully well.  The picture of the solar eclipse
Mike has (or had) on his site was taken with that camera through my ETX.
I suggest you contact Minolta's tech support and see if there is a
shutter bypass sequence for your camera.  Used older Maxxum bodies are
available at camera stores for about $200.

All the best,
Carl Dashman

Subject:	Reposition focus knob
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 23:27:55
From:	kjm96@attglobal.net (Ken Martin)
You mentioned in a recent reply about reposition the focus knob to allow
a wider focusing range. Can you explain? I realize the focus knob can be
moved on the focus shaft, but I thought according to the manual, that
leads to slop in the focus control.
Thanks, Ken
Mike here: If you watch the focus knob as you rotate it you will see it moves towards the surface at the rear of the ETX when turning in one direction and away from the surface in the other direction. The problem that some people may experience is that the knob reaches this surface prior to reaching a focus with some eyepieces. The solution is to move the knob a little further out on the shaft to allow more turns before the knob reaches the surface at the rear of the ETX.

Subject:	etx 90 ra upgrade..........well sort of
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 21:35:47
From:	GJMIII@aol.com
Over the last several months, I have noticed lots of inquiries from
people (obviously who have not read all of the wonderful info on your
site) about the availability of an EC upgrade for the etx 90 ra. 
Additionally, I noticed that you even included the question in your FAQ.
 While you are correct that Meade does not offer an upgrade per se, they
do offer the DS 60 EC (which can be purchased online for about $200)
that makes a wonderful electronically controled mount for the etx 90 ra
and provides GOTO capability with the addition of the Autostar.

Like many of the etx 90 ra owners out there, I was longing for EC and
GOTO capability after purchasing the 90 ra but did not want to shell out
the cash for a new etx 90 EC.  When I came across the DS mount
conversion article on your Tech Tips page I was elated and had to give
it a try.  Needless to say, Paul's instructions were excellent and the
project was a lot of fun.  Today, I have a great scope and tripod with
all of the EC/GOTO functionality I could dream of and for about the same
price as an etx 90 ra and a tripod.

I think many of your readers would also benefit from the DS to ETX mount
conversion and would like to suggest that in addition to correctly
informing your reading public about the absence of an "Official Meade
Upgrade", that you also direct them to the Using DS mount with ETX-90RA
(Keyword to: http://www.weasner.com/etx/techtips/ds_mount.html) posting
on your Tech Tips page.  For the record, my motive is not purely
benevolent, I would like to see some feedback, ideas and suggestions for
improvements from others who have completed the conversion project.  Any
how, that is just my $0.02 worth from FLA's sunny east coast.


Mike here: Good point. Thanks. I'll add it to the FAQ.

Subject:	telescope warehouse
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 15:58:09
From:	pjr@eclipse.net (Paul Roberts)
About six weeks ago, I bought an electronic focuser from the telescope
warehouse (William Vorce, see dealer special section).  He sells dealer
surplus, usually new/unused, ETX equipment.  I got the focuser for $60,
a nice price given that it lists for $115.  I'm very happy with the
focuser which appears to be brand new and have been very pleased with my
dealings with Mr Vorce, who was very helpful and pleasant at all times. 
I recommend his site to other ETX users.   Paul

Subject:	Tripod
Sent:	Monday, April 9, 2001 09:47:26
From:	jnunes01@rochester.rr.com (Jim Nunes)
I just came in from observing, and one of the clips on my Tripod
snapped. Do you know if Meade is doing anything about this?

Mike here: Can you be more specific as to which clip on what model tripod? Have you contacted Meade?


It was the #882 Standard Field Tripod. I called Meade today bright and
early, and thery're sending me a new leg. Thanks for getting back to me.

Subject:	ec base
Sent:	Sunday, April 8, 2001 04:19:03
From:	kd5awc@earthlink.net (catherine moore)
i have a etx ra  90.what would it cost to get a ec base.do they make any
kind of a conversion kit.i'm not sure if can do this but any input is
very welcomed.
                                 thankyou sir jimmy shipman

my addi is handi75@hotmail.com
Mike here: Please see the FAQ on my ETX site for your answer.

Subject:	Re: Re: ETX-125
Sent:	Saturday, April 7, 2001 04:25:44
From:	michael_john_owen@hotmail.com (Michael Owen)
I am having problems with my ETX.

I have the scope mounted on an Alt Az mount, in the home position with
the left fork arm above the computer control and with the scope
horizontal facing North.

The problem is that I can only move the scope using Autostar or the
standard controller East and West. If I press the North / South (up /
down) arrow keys nothing happens.

Both locks are on so the clutch should be engaged.

The other thing I noticed is that although the scope is pointing
horizontally the declination circle on the left fork reads about 70
degrees not O if I were to set it to zero degrees the scope would be
pointing down towards the ground, in fact it's not possible to point it
that far down as the barrel of the scope physically meets the base at
about 35 degrees.

Any idea what I'm doing wrong?

Thanks very much

Michael Owen
Mike here: As to the DEC scale, see the new FAQ linked from the ETX site home page. If the altitude drive won't run (can you hear the motor running when you press up or down?), then you may have suffered from the "cut wire syndrome", where a gear catches a wire and cuts it. Unless you are mechanically inclined, contact Meade.


There's no motor noise so I guess a cut wire is a distinct possibility
-back to the dealer!

Is this just unlucky or is there anything I should be doing to avoid
this in the future?

Thanks for your advice.
Mike here: You might want to read through Clay Sherrod's performance enhancement articles on the Telescope Tech Tips page.

Subject:	Piggyback
Sent:	Friday, April 6, 2001 09:29:30
From:	mvgasy@c2i.net (CHRISTIAN  HAUGERUD)
First of all, congratulation with the "Glaasy" award!!! (I know its
late, but I`ve been in America for the last year.) It was about time you
got one, I say... I`ve started working on my own web page now to. Can
you believe it? There's not ONE Norwegian astronomy page out there
today! So I decided to make my own... but never mind that now...

I just got my hands on a Canon FTb (Finally!!!) and I really want to try
piggyback, but what do I/can I use to attach my camera to my scope? I
have looked in every Norwegian store that sell`s astro equipment, but
nothing... Can you recommend any thing? It doesn't hapto fit ETX, since
I might use my 8" instead.

Any advice will do


"Clear Sky's"
Mike here: As to mounting cameras piggyback, you need a mount that will attach to any telescope. Most are made to slide onto the tube so only match scopes of that diameter tube. A long time ago I used an adapter that mounted a camera to a car window. It just slide over the top of the glass when the window was partially down. But it would also slip over the open end of my 3" Newtonian reflector tube. Worked great. As to where to get, see the piggyback adapter writeups on the Accessories - Showcase Products page.

Subject:	Orion Barlow & ETX-125
Sent:	Friday, April 6, 2001 08:03:59
From:	larry@kruzan.com (Larry Kruzan)
Thanks for the great site and all your hard work on it.  It has been a
tremendous resource for me.  My ETX-125 might have been back to the
retailer for a refund if not for your reference material.

I recently purchased a 2x Barlow (long) from Orion and I have a 3x Meade
Barlow.  When comparing them I noticed that the Meade Barlow has a
shoulder that keeps it from going into the scope too far - the Orion
unit does not.  Due to the length of the Orion Barlow I am concerned
that it might go in far enough to damage something.  Have you had any
experience with this combo?

Thanks again,
Larry Kruzan
Mike here: Some inexpensive Barlows are that way. If you are concerned about it going in too far, wrap some tape around the tube at the eyepiece end. Find the proper position first then add the tape.


Bearing in mind that I am a beginner and I know this will be a dumb
question but - How do you find the proper position to start with?
Mike here: Insert the Barlow with one of your eyepieces. Slide the combination up and down until you reach a focus. You may have to adjust the focus knob to reach a focus. Once you have a focus, note the position of the Barlow tube in the eyepiece holder on the telescope. Then exchange the eyepiece for another one and repeat the process. Eventually you will find a position where you can focus all your eyepiece+Barlow combinations. That is where you want to place the tape so the Barlow will not go into the eyepiece holder any further.

Subject:	My New ETX
Sent:	Thursday, April 5, 2001 19:47:18
From:	msb_1971@hotmail.com (Michael Bogdan)
My name is also mike. I live in Pittsburgh, PA I have been reading your
site for some time now. Well tonight we went out and bought our ETX 90.
I have had other scopes, I had a 4.5 inch Newtonian reflector, it was
also a Meade. I have been wanting a ETX as long as the have made the

At any rate, the reason for the email is to thank you for the site and
to let you know that I wrote right on the registration card that your
site sold me the scope. Thanks again I live in Pittsburgh, PA and I am
sure I'll be asking many questions.

Michael Bogdan

Subject:	finder scope
Sent:	Thursday, April 5, 2001 15:21:49
From:	LVanosdol@aol.com
My name is Les VanOsdol I live in Nebraska. I have been surfing the web
for ETX125EC info. and I must say your site is really good for me. I
bought my scope a few months back and I'm truly an amature.The reason I
am writing aside from telling you your website is really helpful, is to
ask you about the finder scope in the picture of you and your scope on
your opening page. What kind of add on is it? You must like it so would
you tell me a little about it. Keep up the good work you have the best
etx site I have yet to find. Thanks   Les.
Mike here: The finderscope is the Scopetronix LightSight (see the Accessories - Finderscopes page).

Subject:	Rear mounted viewer
Sent:	Thursday, April 5, 2001 15:11:11
From:	ajthurston@bryancave.com (Adam J. Thurston)
The picture of your ETX on your website shows a rear-mounted 90 degree
receptical for your eyepiece.  I can't seem to find this product on
Meade's website or on yours.  Where did you get it and will it fit on my
125?  This seems like a much better arrangement:  the optically flat
mirror is fixed, unlike the sloppy flip mirror on the ETX and the
eyepiece is well out of the way of the 90 degree viewfinder, thus
eliminating the interference I often experience when using a short

By the way, I got my telescope back from Meade after almost 5 weeks. 
Image shift problem is fixed but it has been cloudy in Pasadena so I
haven't had the chance to check the collimation.  The optics had been
cleaned because the old dirt was gone.  Unfortunately, Meade replaced
the old dirt with a brand new smudge.  Guess I'll have to clean it
myself.  At least this time the dirt is on the outside!

P.S.  I'm no longer receiving e-mails about site updates.  Is it
something I said, or is there a glitch somewhere?
Mike here: What is shown is the Shutan Wide-Field Adapter (see the Accessories - Showcase Products page). You can also use the Meade 45-Degree Erecting Prism (Accessories - Miscellaneous). Both work on the ETX-125EC. As to the site updates, I received the notification email back so you were removed. I suspect the problem might be the BCC addressing but if so, you're out of luck.

Subject:	Re: ETX Supercharge Service
Sent:	Wednesday, April 4, 2001 19:50:49
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Ken
Hey Fridge - where have you been?

The optical cleaning solution you mention is excellent.....just use a
LOT of tissue and make sure it is KLEENEX, white, not colored nor
scented.  Use one piece to "smear" on, another to gently wipe in a very
light circular motion, and the last to buff clean with a feather's
touch.  It's the use of gobs of tissue that is the key.

To train motors on an optical bench requires only a correct distance
(about 20 feet for the ETX 125 is minimum) and a fixed object elevated
above the bench;  what I do is to train at horizontal first, reset and
then train again elevated at about 30 degrees; reset again and train at
the 30 degrees again.  This allows the gear train a chance to adjust for
such variables as lubricants, dust, backlash that is not a recurring
periodic nature and so forth.

After all that.....I take outdoors and retrain a final time and DO NOT

For the most part, simply training outdoors on a terrestrial object that
is somewhat elevated (for Polar) or Polaris (for Alt-Az) is way precise

Regarding the star party and ETX bonanza.....don't bring the fridge,
just a big ice chest.

Keep in touch!

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Ken
>Great!  I wondered when you might get around to that!  Great way to make
>some additional income doing something you love.
>As for me, you know that I'm a self-service type guy, and your write-up
>raised a few questions that I'd like to bounce off of you.
>1) You mention a "Precise optical bench "Train Motor" calibration, not
>outdoors on a terrestrial object".  What is the process that you use in
>doing this?  Is it something I can do myself?
>2) What is the process you follow to clean the Optics?  I used the
>recommendation of one of the site suggestions (distilled water, alcohol, and
>a drop of dish detergent) on mine and was not entirely satisfied with the
>results (water spotting, although minimal).
>Any feedback would be appreciated.
>KLT (aka "The Fridge")
>BTW, I'm hoping when this star-party gets set that I can get there; my only
>dilemma is how to get my refrigerator on as carry-on luggage!

Subject:	Re: Questions
Sent:	Wednesday, April 4, 2001 18:22:15
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Murray
Good to hear from you....you and I have a shared cloud bank atop us!

1) the coordinates you provided are very good, but put them in as
degress, minutes and seconds and not decimal conversions;

2) I think the wobble you are getting is from those dad-gummed rubber
feet on the base...TAKE THEM OFF and throw them away, they are only
meant to prevent furniture scratching!  You will never get a firm image
with those poly-wiggles on the bottom!

3) as far as the best bang for your time, it would definitely be
de-greasing if you have not already done so.

4)  get the thinest fiber (Nylon is my preference) washers you can get;
makes no difference what the inside hole diameter is, as long as not too
large; the outer metal washer should be right at 1/8th inch thick for
best results....DO NOT use any soft washer, only nylon for the smaller
inner and stainless for the larger outer one.

Keep in touch....you're missing all the comets, supernova, UFO's and
other things that those clouds of yours are covering up!

Wishing clear skies -

Clay Sherrod
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Murray
    Clay:  Just a note to let you know that I am still alive.  Most
    cloudy nights in the history of man, I do believe.  If I train the
    motors anymore they will mutiny.  Since there seems to be no letup
    forecasted which of the maintenance tips would you suggest I tackle
    first?  There is a softness or wobble in the base of the scope even
    when on a solid table, without tripod, and clamped down on the DEC
    axis (more pressure on the dec handle does not reduce the wobble. 
    This compounds the shake at the outbound end of the scope,
    especially when in the vertical position (when leveling),  some in
    the vertical pos. but not as bad.

    This movement is noticeable by feel and sight between the base and
    the fork arm turntable part of the base.  Hope I am not just looking
    for an excuse to take something apart, which is what I love to do,
    but with the clouds like they are....

    Clay, what is the desired thickness of the fiber washer set out in
    the last Alt tune-up?  Also the thickness of the stainless steel 
    washer just to be safe, as I found several different thickness for
    the fiber washer at the hardware store.  No help there!  One more
    thing, we are talking about a fiber (hard surface--not felt like)
    washer such as masonite etc. right?

    Really enjoying the little scope and have ordered the books you
    suggested ( Vol. 1 of Burnham's and "Star Names Their Lore and Their

    Is 30.6N  98.3W close enough to enter as a site in the Autostar as
    that is as close as I can get without a GPS for my home position?
    This position is about 6 miles east of the Lat/Lon given.

    Thanks and hoping for Clear Skies

Subject:	Re: daytime and light leaks
Sent:	Wednesday, April 4, 2001 07:51:46
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Ells
Good luck on the light leak...It really helps when looking around the
brighter objects.  I experimented both with and without a block in place
of all three entry points and MAN, what a difference (particularly with
the moon and with Jupiter off-set to one side of the center of the FOV).

You will love the 2.5x barlow....very good choice.  I think you will see
just how effective a good barlow can be with an ETX scope, allowing for
good images, great eye relief and....what's more important:  getting
your FACE out of the telescope!

Your pre-dawn Mercury GO TO is a great idea and I hope Mike passes it on
in reference to this "daytime observing" article.

Great to hear from you....if you want to sell the barlow, just write.

Clay Sherrod
-----Original Message-----
From: Ells
>Interesting that you should address daytime viewing now, I
>have been trying a bit lately, in addition to the solar
>stuff I've done on and off for some time.  Great way to
>extend the utility of the scope.  (Got a couple reasonable
>digital photos of the last large sunspot group by just
>pointing the camera into the ep.)  Great to have your
>input.  Another hint for dimmer daytime objects is to leave
>the scope set up from the night before (as you once
>mentioned somewhere), or like I did the other day, taking
>advantage of daylight savings time, got up just before sun
>rise and did a normal star alignment and then left it
>tracking a star near Mercury and came back later when
>Mercury, and the sun, had risen.
>Finally found the light leak that you just emphasized also.
>I had looked for it before, with flashlight, but had not
>seen it.  Now am excited to see if it impacts some of the
>aberrations (false images) I had been seeing around
>primarily Jupiter, but also other bright objects, apparently
>in addition to the reflection off my eye in the ep.
>Just got the TV 2.5 Powermate, in part as a result of your
>promoting Barlows. Now, this thing really produces a great
>image, in very limited use so far.  I had previously used a
>old two-element 2-3x adjustable cheap Barlow and it
>definitely deteriorated the image.

Subject:	Thank you for the wonderful tutorial!!!
Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 20:37:43
From:	mandre@ameritech.net (Mike Andre)
I got my ETX only 5 days ago and am chomping at the bit to use it. 
However the weather here in Ohio is not exactly condusive to this
particular hobby. So while crusing the web in search of information I
came upon your program. Meade should consider providing your small
program with thier product!! Well done!  Thanks from a newbie!!

Mike Andre
Senior Network Engineer
Roll-Kraft Inc

Subject:	Re: Performance enhancement - Rocking fix - Question
Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 17:27:38
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Ian
Ian - beyond a doubt, get rid of that little washer; there should be no
washer on the clamp side;   follow carefully the instructions in Part 4
- "Enhancement Guide..." and you will see that you dispose of THAT
washer on that side (none on that side -the clamping side) and then add
TWO on the declination circle side just as described.  Doing it
precisely that way (Fig. 2 - smaller washer toward the fork arm and
larger one outer toward the setting circle) will eliminate both a
substantial amount of rocking and the tendency for the setting circle to
slip;  be sure to apply two narrow (1/2" w c 1" long) strips of duct
tape on the DEC clamp knob inside surface (that which makes contact with
the setting circle disk) with the shiny side facing the DEC circle; this
will "grab" the circle and help stabilize it,  but still make it easy to
adjust when it get off the mark.

good luck!

Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian
    Just a quick query - while following your tune-up guides, I removed
    the dec circle & knob to find a small 'dougnut' type washer (appears
    to be nylon/PTFE). Is this the nylon washer you mention?. If not
    what would you recommend  -bin it and follow the rest of the guide
    or keep it. Currently the dec circle (ETX125) is usually loose and
    needs tightening frequently
    Thanks for any advice
Mike here: By the way, I've never had a problem with the DEC scale on my ETX-125EC or ETX-90RA. Maybe I'm spoiled?

Subject:	Meade or Celestron Skylight/Dust seal
Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 17:26:33
From:	dlangham@cheqnet.net (David Langham)
I read and heard so much about these skylight filter/dust seals from
Meade and Celestron, and I think it might be worth it to purchase one. I
understand that they thread on the the rear cell of the ETX. Where
exactly is the "rear cell"? Is it inside the housing which holds the
flip mirror and 1.25" eyepiece? Is it quite a project to do this?
Thanks for the help, great site (as if you haven't heard that yet).
Mike here: There is already a cover on the "rear cell", if you are referring to the port at the back end of the ETX models. So I'm not certain why you need this item on the ETX. Got any more info?


Ok, I've found out that these particular filters are for Celeston C5's
etc, and Meade LX series scopes. Basically, I'm looking for an "all
purpose" deep sky filter. I've looked through your sight and see that
LPR filters seem to be the way to go. Thanks again for putting up with
some of us novices in the quest for the "perfect ETX-90EC setup".

Subject:	Etx 
Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 10:12:13
From:	ARottal@gmx.de (Arno)
I have a problem with my ETX 90 EC. When i align the etx with the
autostar and the easy alignment, autostar says that i shall put the etx
in horizontal position ( 0 on the altitude scale). But when i put my etx
in the horizontal position (normally 0) it's 50 not 0. When the etx
points to the zenith the graduation should be 90 but it is 40. What
shall i do ?

(Ps: I could only solve the problem with upgrading autostar (if you can
remember it) by exchanging it for a new one, because nothing helped to
make my autostar work properly.)

Thanks for helping !
Arno R.
Mike here: If I'm understanding your problem correctly, it is the Declination (same as altitude) scale on the fork arm that is off. This is not critical since I usually just eyeball the leveling myself (others use spirit levels). But you can adjust the zero position of the scale. Just rotate the lock to loosen it, rotate the scale with your finger to read properly, and retighten the lock.

Subject:	etx 90
Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 07:02:28
From:	charliemikealfa@yahoo.com (mike m)
I have had one of these etx 90s for over a year. I am having trouble
with the primary mirror, moving around a lot when i focus. it started
when i added the motorized unit to the focuser. it played out all the
way, and became unattached from the mirror. I worked on it and finally
got it working again, but i am sure the warranty is voided. is this a
common problem?  I added a rubber grommet to the focus shaft to cut down
movement. Is there any other action i can take to dampened the movement?
thanks,  michael miller
Mike here: Did anything else come loose? Can you hear anything inside the tube rattling around? If you got everything reattached properly there should be minimal mirror shift (image shift) during focusing. This is not a common problem on the ETX-90 models and newer ETX-125EC (since Summer 2000). But if you disassemble the focus mechanism, even removing the knob with the ETX pointed downward, the shaft can slip inside the tube.


I bought this at Natural Wonders in 3-1-2000. I also did not train the
motors properly the first time. I have had problems with my etx, "of my
on making".  I bought a Celestron 8", but i really like the etx better.
Hopefully i can iron out all the problems.
thanks for your kind e mail.      michael miller

Subject:	Deluxe Tripod Installation
Sent:	Monday, April 2, 2001 00:03:38
From:	jsludvik@ucdavis.edu (Jeffrey Ludvik)
I misplaced my Meade Deluxe Field Tripod instructions and I was
searching on the web hoping someone would have posted them somewhere.  I
came across your feedback site and looked for links but didn't find any.
I was hoping that possible you could send me a scaned version or any
version of the instructions if you happen to have them.  I realize that
this website was last updated in 1998, and it's now 2001....however, I
just recently bought this tripod and brought it to school with me.

I thank you for your time.

Jeffrey Ludvik
Mike here: Where are you looking? Last update was 31 March 2001. Updates are every 2, 3, or 4 days and have been since 1996. Anyway, check the current Astronomy Links page at my ETX site. You'll find the tripod manual listed under the ETX section.


Thank you very much for your help, I found the intructions.  I was
mistaken as to when it was last updated, my apologies.

Sent:	Sunday, April 1, 2001 12:02:47
From:	awbriggs@pacbell.net (A. W. Briggs 2)
Mike, thanks for being there. I now have connected the camera and loaded
the software into a Mac G3 tower and, what-do-you-know, it appears to be
working. I haven't captured an image yet... it's still a bright day
outside. Sooooo, your right, it must be in the USB PC card and/or its
software that I was using on the Powerbook. I will now pursue possibly
another card. I'll keep you updated. Thanks again for your

By the way, what is Prime Focus mean that Clay refers to, and is "in
Polar mode" the same as using an equatorial mount?

Al Briggs
Mike here: Glad that you have a working system. Sorry to hear that the adapter might have been the culprit. Prime Focus means the location where the image from the optics (minus eyepiece) comes to a focus. On the ETX models it is normally used to mean the focus position at the rear port. Polar and equatorial mounting are the same thing.

Subject:	Re: thank you
Sent:	Sunday, April 1, 2001 11:29:43
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Dave
Dave - thanks for the kind words.  I am VERY glad that the technical
information got your ETX 125 up and running well!  Regarding the
eyepiece for the comet right now, I would suggest something in the order
of 150x (26mm + barlow) to about 170X; once it gets the tail, drop the
magnification down some.

I do not believe it has had enough time (is not close enough to the sun
for solar wind replusion) to develop a blown tail.  Give it about
another three weeks; it was NOT supposed to be this bright until
mid-June, so we are way ahead of schedule.

Keep us posted from down South!

Clay Sherrod

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave
Dear Clay,

You don't know me, but I certainly feel like I know you from all of your
technical advice on the Weasner site.  Your advice is tremendously
helpful and I enjoy your writing style - it's clear that you are one
person who is enjoying his retirement to the fullest!

Last Christmas I acquired an ETX-125; although I would like to, I have
not attempted the mechanical adjustments you recommend, mostly because I
live in Africa, am not very experienced mechanically and, should I get
into trouble, sending the scope back to Meade is out of the question. 
If I was in the US, I would send my machine to you for your 37 point
tune-up in an instant.

However, this weekend I followed your detailed instructions for
upgrading Autostar to v2.1ek, adjusting the Alzimuth setting, retraining
and calibrating the scope.  The skies finally cleared up this evening
and the change in my machine is nothing short of remarkable: my ETX is
slewing, tracking and targetting the way it's supposed to.  Thank you!

On another note, I read your notice on the Comet Linear.  I had the ETX
go to RA 06 03, DEC -07 00, but was unable to see anything that looked
like it had a tail.  Do you have any advice on what power ep would work
best and what we can expect to actually see?

Thanks again and best regards,


Subject:	New ETX-90 EC
Sent:	Sunday, April 1, 2001 09:26:06
From:	filippo.cicala@tin.it (Filippo Cicala)
First of all, sorry for my english...perhaps I need some lessons:-)

I am about to purchase a new telescope; the choice is between the
Nexstar 4 (1000 $ in Italy)(pros:solid mounting, 102 mm aperture 
cons:price, controller not upgradable and not as full of functions as
the Autostar #497) and the ETX 90-EC with Autostar #497 (750 $ in
Italy)(pros:Autostar #497, price, Weasner's Mighty ETX Site :-)
cons:fragile mounting, with too much plastic and bad designed, in my
opinion). I wish for an ETX with more metal in the right places (gears,
Right Tube Adapter,...). When do you think a new version of the 90-EC
will be released? The first version (the 90RA ASTRO) was released in
1997, the second (the 90EC) in 1999 so I can suppose that the new
version will be on the market during 2001; what do you think?

Thanks and regards

Filippo Cicala
Genoa (Italy)
Mike here: Regarding new ETX models, if I knew anything I couldn't say anything. By the way, the original ETX (now called the ETX-90RA or ETX Astro Model M) was released in 1996. I don't have any experience with the NexStar4 but it is worth noting that there are a lot of happy ETX-90 users out there. Some visit my ETX site but that is only a small percentage of the total number of users.


Thanks for your answer, but I'm still unable to do a choice...don't
worry, I'm always indecisive :-)
I'll wait for the summer.

Greetings from Genoa, Italy.
Filippo Cicala

Subject:	Dating
Sent:	Sunday, April 1, 2001 08:01:43
From:	beruberu@freesurf.ch (Philippe HAAKE)
Sorry Mike I forgott to tell you that it is much nicer to read your site
now you put every date at the end of update... much simpler.. also... I
hope it will help some other than only me...
Have a nice day...
Best Greetings From SWITZERLAND
ICQ 3128404

Subject:	field reducer for the etx-60
Sent:	Sunday, April 1, 2001 03:16:42
From:	star_journey@yahoo.com (Scott Horne)
I keep seeing references to a focal reducer made from the objective of a
viewfinder.  But no specifics.  How does one go about making this gizmo?

Scott Horne
21:20:49.150N  157:54:18.374W
Mike here: Some optics will work for alternative purposes. Some industrious users have taken apart old finderscopes or binoculars and used the components for other purposes. I have not done this so can't speak from experience. But I've seen references to people doing it. All you need is time to play and something to mount the optics in.

Subject:	ETX 125 Star Parties
Sent:	Sunday, April 1, 2001 01:04:15
From:	cjkershner@pop.halcyon.com (Carol Kershner)
Any chance you might know of some star parties in my area? I live in
Renton, WA (South of Seattle). I purchased a 125 for Xmas. I have
wonderful viewing of the moon & several planets. I am very frustrated
with training the autostar. As yet I have not had a successful
alignment. I am a novice... do I really need to do Clay's tune up just
to get the scope to track correctly? Meade has not returned either of my
calls. I am just looking for other to talk too and compare notes.

Thanks, Floyd
Mike here: Sky & Telescope has information on star parties and clubs on their Resources page.

Subject:	Meade ETX90
Sent:	Saturday, March 31, 2001 23:46:13
From:	mvflores@jps.net (Michael Flores)
I took my "new" (used) ETX-90RA out tonight and spotted Jupiter and
Saturn.  I was not impressed with the images, i.e. very tiny-
approximately 4mm diameter and blurry.  I am not complaining, but I'd
like some advice: do I need a larger scope, is it possible I am not
using it correctly?

Thank you for any advice you can share, Mike F.
Mike here: Hard to say whether the scope doesn't live up to your expectations or whether something is wrong, either with the conditions in which you viewed Jupiter and Saturn or with the scope. If you expected to see details on Jupiter and Saturn like you see in high quality photographs then your expectations are too high. If the air through which you were viewing was unstable, the images can be quite unstable and blurry (see "Seeing Conditions and Transparency" on the "Observational Guides, References" page. You can also "star test" your scope to see if it might need an optical alignment (see "Collimation Test" on the "Telescope Tech Tips" page). You didn't say what eyepieces you were using but perhaps you were using too high a power (magnification) for the ETX-90RA (see "Magnification" on "Observational Guides, References" page). You might also want to read through the user observations (on the "User Observations" page) and also the appropriate items on the "Buyer/New User Tips" page.

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