ETX USER FEEDBACK - AUGUST 1997
Many ETX users have written to me with comments or questions. If you have any comments, suggestions, or answers to questions posed here, please e-mail them to me and I'll post them.
See the ETX Feedback Page for current comments.
Sent: Sunday, August 31, 1997 06:42:15 From: BirdoB@aol.com While using the ETX over the past several months four (04) small (approximately 1") pieces of plastic have worked their way out of the base of the scope from the area where the top and base of the mount are joined. Each piece was covered with what appeared to be grease. I suspect these are "shims" of some kind. Should I contact Meade regarding this? Other then this (possible) problem the scope performs very well. BirdoB
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 1997 06:42:10 From: email@example.com (George P. Stasiu) I spoke with the folks at Pocono Mountain Optics and did some research on-line since my last exchange of e-mail with you. I am told that the 9mm Nagler (made by Tele Vue) solves the problem I complained about - namely gives good eye relief and a bright, wide angle of view. For this you must pay however - up to $230 per eyepiece. Other good choices are the 8mm Ultra Wide Angle Meade (or the 4.4 o6 6.7 UWA) These pieces go for between $150 and $230. Well, I guess cash solves all technical problems - and that sure seems to be the case here. I think I will hold off throwing more money into the equipment and spend more on increasing my proficiency with what I already have. May your gazing be clear and rewarding, George
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 1997 02:02:40 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Gideon) I took the plastic back off of the ETX body, and drilled a 10-24 screw sized hole into the plastic at the very rear of the back and also drilled one through the extrusion where the original ETX finder went at the leading edge of the base. The tube assembly is a flush fit, and this front location is the only place you can drill and place a flat-head screw (counter-sinked) into the plastic back to allow for two point contact. The base of the finder will have to be drilled to match these two holes and the base needs to be parallel to the tube. Once these holes are drilled, the plastic back should be placed back into the fork, and the vertical component of the finder base will need to be trimmed away on one side to allow the base to swing past the 90-deg declination point. It sounds harder than it is to do. Tom
Sent: Friday, August 29, 1997 05:07:44 From: Fishee9@aol.com hi, well, yesterday i brought my etx to "The Nature Company" and showed someone my problem. because i bought so much stuff in that store, i assume, they gave me an equal exchange, no questions asked. i had the scope one year and one week. the warranty (as you know) ended in one year. Now i have a brand new etx and i'm lovin it... thank you for your time, love your website, dave (email@example.com)
Sent: Friday, August 29, 1997 01:52:13 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (claus pedersen) Hello I want to buy a ETX, but the dealer in Denmark shows little interest in selling such one to me and the price is also rather high: almost 1.000$. So I wonder if I could buy one from a dealer outside DK. Do sombody have any suggestions? Claus Pedersen Musikhuset Århus Denmark - 8000 Århus C.
Sent: Friday, August 29, 1997 01:33:50 From: email@example.com (George P. Stasiuk) By the by, your photo's are outstanding. I use my ETX in the Catskills at elev. 4000+ where it is very dark, the sky is very clear and there are minimal atmospheric disturbances. I havn't used it for photography yet, but your results are encouraging me to do so. Actually, Pocono Mountain Optics sent me the wrong adapter for my camera - so I havn't had the chance. Best, George George P. Stasiuk, Esq. ESQUIRE ENTERPRISES http://www.esqwyr.com ********************************* firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com internic handle: gs1773 voice: (201) 759-0579 fax: (201) 939-4057 websites: http://www.esqwyr.com
Sent: Thursday, August 28, 1997 11:40:46 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Wayne Powell) An update. Well further tests indicate that the Minolta Dimage-V and other "zoom" small digital cameras (without removable lens mounts) just don't work for eyepiece projection. Although I am not sure of the exact reason, it appears that the primary lens (and/or ccd chip) is placed too far back in the lens assembly and produces a severely vignetted and unusable image. I traded the Minolta Dimage-V (sob, sob, it's a great personal "point and grin" digital camera) for a much cheaper Sony Mavica MVC-FD5 with a fixed focus lens and it works perfectly. I have attached two hand-held eyepiece shots taken with a 12.5 Meade Super Plossl of Jupiter (in very poor seeing - the heart of Toronto, Canada) that clearly shows the storm bands. Neither has been digitally enhanced. One is purposely over-exposed to show the moon(s). Now I have a dilemma, the Minolt Dimage-V is a perfectly sized compact camera with many features (including remote lens, zoom and macro) and takes better quality pictures than the Sony (though it eats batteries like they're going out of style). The Sony is twice the size (not practical to carry around), no zoom and poorer picture quality. But it does have a much better battery system (infolithium), a rechargeable with no "memory" that lasts a long time. I wish I could have the features of both ... and still be able to use the camera for eyepiece projection. What to do, what to do. I am tempted to give up on the eyepiece projection with the small CCD still camera and stick with my SLR mounted 35mm photography and eventually get a dedicated CCD telescope imager/guider....
Sent: Thursday, August 28, 1997 09:17:08 From: Fishee9@aol.com about one year ago i purchased the etx.... i love this telescope.. Becuase i also have a 10" dob, my eye has become more trained when observing. when i look through the etx, i can see things that other people might not see. the etx's optical performance is superb. i viewed m57 recently and it was a good show. the central star was not visible, but the "smoke ring" was. I was very pleased with it. i just wanted to say that up until now, the etx is in one word....beautiful thanx for listening, email@example.com
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 1997 13:45:55 From: Ray_Wartinger@wb.xerox.com (Wartinger,Ray C) I've really enjoyed your WEB page - thanks for putting it up and maintaining it. Its an invaluable asset to the growing group of ETX owners. I just received my ETX last Thursday and am still getting used to it. My previous scope is a 6" reflector I bought from Edmunds Scientific back in the 70's. Its not a bad scope but is difficult to lug around and has no motor drive. Here are my first impressions of the ETX: - excellent optics, images are crisp - very portable, easy to set up. I use a heavy duty Bogen tripod which seems plenty stable. - clunky drive, takes too long for it to "lock in" - slo-mo controls are adequate but not smooth operating, declination knob is really sloppy and scrapes and squeaks when turned. I can't imagine how JMI's motorized declination attachment can possibly work well with it. Has anyone tried lubricating this mechanism? - RA setting circle is very difficult to turn. I'm considering getting JMI's digital setting circles but would like to hear something good about it first. - Controls in general are difficult to get to and use. RA lock and slo-mo are tucked up tight under the tube and hard for my fat fingers to use. Focus knob is also hard to use and is a bit too coarse. I'm considering getting JMI's moto-focus to help out here. - Aiming is very difficult. I guess I'm used to a longer tube (like 48" on my 6" newtonian) which is easy to aim and then fine tune with the finder scope. With the ETX's short tube, there is very little to guide on and the finder scope is almost impossible to use. I'm thinking of trying the reflex sight off my other scope. It seems like if there were a couple of white stripes going lengthwise up the scope's tube you could at least have a reference to sight with. Has anyone tried this? Overall I'm fairly pleased with the ETX even with its shortcomings, some of which are inherent in its compact size. I'm not happy at all with the plastic construction, especially the cheesy way the base it put together - a single self-tapping screw into plastic! How long will this last?!? (a strictly rhetorical question, mind you) Do you know of anyone who has computerized their ETX? What about lubrication? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch again for your excellent WEB page. - - Ray Ray_Wartinger@WB.Xerox.Com
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 1997 12:21:09 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (George P. Stasiu) Recently purchased a Meade ETX and am generally pleased with it. I am rather annoyed however with the performance of the 9MM Super Plossl eyepiece that I recently added. It is hard to see anything through it - the light coming through is very low. Can you suggest a better eyepiece with that magnification? Using my standard eyepiece with a shorty Barlow is way better. Your comments (and Page) are appreciated. George P. Stasiuk
Mike here: I have the same eyepiece I believe (9.7mm Super Plossl). There is certainly a dimmer view of the universe through it but not bad for bright objects like planets or the moon.
Sent: Monday, August 25, 1997 18:06:39 From: email@example.com (Miller) Hello! I must say that your site is great! It is an invaluable well of information! Anyway, I myself am considering purchasing a Meade ETX Astro Scope, and have one or two questions about it. My one major question is if it is good at viewing deep sky objects. Now, I realize that since it only has an aperature of 90mm it is not going to have the light collecting capabilities as some other larger scopes have, but I want to know if it is capable of viewing any deep sky objects whatsoever. I really hope that this scope is capable of viewing some sort of galaxies and nebulae. I know that I am not going to be able to see all of the deep sky objects that are visible with larger aperatures, but all I really want to know to finalize my purchasing decision that this scope will be able to see 10 or 20 deep sky objects. Do you think you could provide an answer for me. I will appreciate anything that you have to say or suggest. Thank you very much for your help, Carl Miller
Mike here: The brighter objects like M42 in Orion will be easy. Dimmer objects like the M57 (Ring Nebula) will be more difficult but I saw it recently. I plan to go after M31 galaxy one of these mornings. So, yes, many deep sky objects can be seen.
Sent: Monday, August 25, 1997 12:42:41 From: 101707.3644@CompuServe.COM (Mark and Caron Pitkethly) I am a beginner and have been a keen watcher of the stars now for about 3 years after rekindling a childhood fascination. Yesterday I purchased my own ETX in France - so sadly my setting up instructions are in French and I await the English instructions. Can you help?? I am going to read your pages with interest and let you know how I get on. I live in Yorkshire in England and our skies are changeable but I intend to travel to see some dark skies.
Mike here: You can probably get an English manual from Meade. Try writing to them.
Sent: Monday, August 25, 1997 09:44:18 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dudley Lehmer) I just purchased my first telescope, an ETX for my daughter (and me) who is very interested in space. I really want to encourage her in this area. So far I am pleased with the basic system. I do want to purchase some accessories to improve my viewing. I went to Meade's web page and looked at recommended eyepieces. They recommend SP 18, 12.4, 9.7 or wide angle 4.7 or 6.7. I can see from your pic's what the 9.7mm can do alone and with the 2X barlow. I have two questions 1) The pic's using the 9.7 (128x) and with barlow (256x) are a little blurry. I understand this is to be expected when you push the magnification. Do you find the extra mag. worth the loss in focus quality? From the pic's, I would tend to say it is worth it, but I am interested in your experience. 2) Have you ever used any of the wide angle eyepieces? Does the 4.7 really give a 266x (1250/4.7) magnification, or is the formula different for these wide angle eyepieces? If it is this high a mag. how is the quality? I did quite a bit of research before I bought my first telescope and I want to thank you for your web page. It was VERY helpful. One last question. Now that I have a telescope, I still have a LOT to learn about finding objects, star charts etc. I purchased a basic book and circular star chart with the telescope but I would like your advice on resources for a beginner to learn about locating planets and objects etc. (so far I have been able to find the moon OK, ha,ha). Also I can understand the basics about the star chart but need a good reference to find the planets. Thank you again for your help and advice. Dudley Lehmer
Mike here: Visually, the views at the higher magnifications are better than what is apparent from the photos. The loss of light is very noticeable when using the 2x Barlow and the camera but less so with the eye. However, you really do need steady seeing to use the higher magnifications. As to the wide angle eyepieces, I've not used any; perhaps will comment. There are several free and commercial software packages that do an excellent job in charting the sky. There are also several web pages that do it. Check out the astronomy links.
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 1997 17:31:03 From: email@example.com (Glenn Brock) While visiting Pocono Mountain Optics web site I found this: ---- Introducing! New upgrade accessories for the Meade ETX, from Apogee, Inc.: * ETX Right Angle Finder Conversion $49.95 * LAR Adapter for the ETX (allows use of SCT accessories) $29.95 * ETX to 1.25" Adapter $29.95 * ETX Mini Tele-Extender $29.95 ---- www.rahul.net/resource/regular/products/pocono/ There were no pictures and I didn't find any of these items on Apogee's web site. Anybody seen this Finder Conversion kit? Wonder how it compares to the JMI kit? I'm still a newbee and could somebody tell me what the other three items are for. Thanks, Glenn Brock firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Saturday, August 23, 1997 18:31:04 From: email@example.com (Anthony N. Speca) I've had my ETX about 3 weeks now. This is a tough time in SE Texas for good seeing so I have not used it much yet. Actually, after reading comments posted at your site I decided to order an ETX for my upcoming trip to the Feb total eclipse - expecting a 4 - 6 month wait it showed up 3 weeks after ordering. It turned out that the local dealer, Texas Nautical, has a standing order for them - he sells everyone he gets and quickly too. Anyway, I have some good eyepieces from my old C8 but nothing less than 20mm. I want to buy a 10mm but don't know if this is "too much" power for the ETX. Also what is best - Plossl or some other? I've not bought Astronomy equipment in a long time. I would appreciate hearing from you or others. Tony Speca Kingwood, TX
Mike here: Congrats on the new ETX! I successfully use my Meade Super Plossl 9.7mm Multi-Coated Eyepiece ($85) with the ETX, even when doubled using the 2x Short-Focus Multi-Coated Barlow Lens ($53). The 9.7mm gives 128x, and doubled, 256x. Check out the updated "First Impressions" on my ETX web site for some new comments added resulting from my observations of Jupiter and Saturn at 128x and 256x. Also, see the Planet Gallery for pictures just posted. You can also check out the Accessories page for more info on Eyepieces. And don't forget these Feedback pages!
Sent: Friday, August 22, 1997 10:48:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Cann) We have had some very good nights for the past three weeks and have enjoyed the return of Jupiter. The ETX is still performing well including the drive. I always use the 'double double' in Lyra as a test of the sky before I observe and then I go to Pi Aquila (1.4 second separation) for a further test of the sky...or the ETX !! I guess its a summer habit !! On most nights I have been able to see the 'space' between the two faint stars. Eta Corona Borealis at 1.0 second just shows as an oblong ie no space, but that is really pushing the limits. I still see lots of comments on the 'site' about tripods. I am still using my Manfrotto #144 with a #128 head and it has given me no grief over the past 13 months. I notice that some of the Bogen and other setups that I have seen appear to have some sort of extension or series of hinged plates that sit on top of the tripod head. This seems to add about 4 to 6 inches of additional height that would possibly introduce some vibration. On the Manfrotto, the ETX sits directly on the tilt head and is therefore very close to the top of the tripod. It is very easy to set the tilt head at the elevation of the 'pole' and have a very stable set up. I am now waiting for the delivery of a Meade SP 4000 6.4 mm plossl eyepiece. I will update you on its performance when it arrives. I hope that your skies are clear. Cheers.....Doug in sunny BC.
Sent: Friday, August 22, 1997 08:22:07 From: email@example.com (Randall Rubis) Greetings, I have just got my ETX and I plan on using it as a guide scope for my 10" LX200. I have a couple of pics on my www.ameritech.net/users/rubis/RANDY1.HTM web site showing the ETX with a Meade 208XT attached. Grab the pics if you want. Tomorrow I will have pics that show the ETX set on a dove tail mount with rings holding the ETX and the CCD. Keep up the great work on the ETX! Clear Ones. -- Randy Rubis Manager, Data Network Support Ameritech Cellular Services "Grab some photons tonight - it'll warm your heart and chill your bones" Home Page http://www.ameritech.net/users/rubis/RANDY1.HTM
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 1997 15:55:15 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Art) Thanks for taking the time to respond. I think you convinced me to get another ETX but I'm going to really check out the drive accuracy before I accept one. (I already own a Meade Field Tripod and a 2045 Wedge which works nicely with the ETX!) Passing note, a search via Yahoo indicates your site is the only one remaining on ETX. There were some others when I first discovered yours. I'll keep visiting your web site. - Art -
Mike here: Gee, I didn't mean to knock off the competition!
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 1997 23:34:10 From: email@example.com (Art) We "talked" sometime ago and you posted my comments regarding my experiences with an early ETX. (Great optics, poor tracking, returned!) Well, since then I came across a Meade LX50 Mak 7 which is what I really wanted. The owner is Ron Smith, the Santa Rosa College professor who is quoted in the ETX section of the current Meade Catalog. (Santa Rosa is the community "next door" to me.) Awfully nice scope, nice price, nice fellow. He had it for a short while and needed to sell it due to an old back injury. The OTA & mount weigh 50#, the total is 80#. Well, Ron suggested I check it out first and after three weeks I had to take a pass. For the same reasons, too heavy. I have a disc problem in my lower back. I can lift the 50# but carrying it is murder. I'm on a extended job assignment and it wasn't going to work out. Great scope for a semi-fixed site though. So, all that just to say I rethinking the ETX. I love Mak optics, particularly Meade's - bright, high contrast, and clear. My question to you is, how has your ETX worked out for you since we last emailed? How is it holding up and how is the tracking? How many owners have problems with speed variations? Would you recommend it now? Thanks. By the way your web site has matured very nicely, cudos again! Art Griggs, Sonoma, CA
Mike here: Thanks for the email and the comments on the ETX web site. I am still VERY pleased with my ETX. I may even take it with me on a trip to Indiana next month since I'll be there when the Saturn occultation occurs. Optics are still great. Drive is still acceptable for visual work and some short exposure astrophotography. Obviously the ETX is not suited to deep space astrophotography but then it was not designed for that. I've just been pushing the envelop to see what it can do. I have more tests at the photo lab going on PhotoCD; hope to have it back soon. As you can see from other comments in the ongoing Feedback pages, many users are very pleased with the ETX. I post all comments, good and bad, and right now the good outnumber the bad by a large margin. I'd like a larger scope myself and do plan to get one someday but for ease of setup and portability combined with great optics, the ETX can't be beat.
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 1997 01:07:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael & Lori Nicholas) Continued great work on this page. I don't really have the guts to do the drive modifications that many people are doing, but I have noticed a problem in the warm humid weather that we are having in western Kentucky. It appears that the RA motor does some noticeable jerking at high power (125x, 175x, & 250x), it is not that noticeable at lower powers (48x & 86x). Are there any reasonable adjustments that I could be making. Saw the progress of I believe Ganymede's shadow across the face of Jupiter in the early AM on 8/17/97. It also appeared that one of Jupiter's cloud bands became nearly non-existent during the hour or so I was observing. I am really enjoying the ETX!! Mike Nicholas Paducah, Kentucky
Mike here: See Tom Price's July 14 comment in the June-July 1997 Feedback Archive for a discussion about adjusting the friction.
Sent: Monday, August 18, 1997 05:59:01 From: email@example.com (Wayne Powell) I just recently purchased an ETX and have found your page most valuable. Thank you for keeping it up! I have a couple of comments and will add more details later. I was not pleased that the ETX didn't come with a cover for the eyepiece holder. However, I found that a Fuji film canister (opaque with a black lid) will fit perfectly if you cut it down to between 1/2 and 1/3 of its size. With the cut edge cleaned (you don't want to get any plastic burs in the scope) and inserted, the new eyepiece cover fits in nicely, stopped at the rim of the eyepiece holder by the film canister lid, and can be held snugly inside with the set screw of the eyepiece. As for a case, I purchased a hard body (and water tight) Pelican EQ 1550 with Pick and Pluck Foam which is the perfect size for the ETX and accessories. The fit of the scope is snug as there ia only 1/4" of breathing room between the scope base and the lid, however it fits without any movement nor undue pressure. The price was $210 Canadian. A bit pricey but it works great, rugged, and attractive. I will attach some pictures as soon as I can. Lastly, a question. I purchased a new Minolta Dimage V CCD still camera (with detachable lens) and am excited about the prospect of taking some simple eyepiece projection pictures of the moon. However I tried it quickly last night and found it impossible to focus (or perhaps the moon was just too bright?). Can you give me any hints on how I might set it up (i.e. how you have achieved focus with you camera). Once I have achieved some satisfactory results I will send you the results and a review of the camera (which I believe, with the detachable remote lens, should be a good little camera for ETX moon eyepiece projections). Thank you!
Mike here: As to the focusing question, with my Casio I can see the image on the LCD on the camera. So it is easy to focus. Also, since I'm using eyepiece projection with the camera focused at infinity, there is no change in focus from the setting for visual work. With the Pentax, it is another story. Since I don't use the Pentax lens, focus has to change. And since I don't have the JMI focuser (which might help) seeing the correct focus through the camera viewfinder is a MAJOR challenge on dim objects.
Hmm..I tried it in daylight at luch today and noticed that I do get an image in the Dimage V LCD screen, however it is completely vignetted into a circular field (with, say, the 26mm Plossl) to only about a third or less of the field visible to the eye. Hmmm... Is there any modification that you had to make to your CCD camera? The Minolta has a zoom lens and a macro setting and it is automatically (or permanently) focused. I believe the macro setting is a fixed focues of about 2.5" I suspect that the vignetting is occurring because I can't get the camera lens close enough to the eyepiece lens??? (In the Minolta Dimage V the lense assembly is something to behold! Coated glass, etc. But for zooming, it moves a small lense (possible with the ccd attached??) up and down the main lense tube. But I'm no optical wizard. I did notice that in the small vingetted are, the image I can make out is very bright and only a portion of the full field normally visible in the eyepiece. This is with the camera lense pushed up as close to and as on axis to the eyepiece as possible. Using the zoom the vignette hardly changes at all but the image portion within the vignette does magnify and vice versa (and remain in focus). Now if I can only get it to project more of the field on to the ccd, it might give a better metering for the exposure (and some sort of useable image. Any ideas on how this is accomplished? Should I give up with this little ccd camera? Does your camera give a full field or is it vignetted too? Thanks for the help. Sorry for being verbose. I will be getting the JMI Motofocus and MotoDec. I will also be getting a Kenrick (??) KwikFocus (or making one) as it seems indispensible for focusing a 35mm at Prime Focus and/or projection.
Mike here again: With my Casio I can get the camera lens right up to the eyepiece when I hand-hold it but not when I use a mount I made (see the Gallery basics). With the mount I get the vignetting you see. I also get some vignetting when using my 9.7mm eyepiece but nothing too bad with the Casio. I'll post your additional comments and maybe some will have a solution for you.
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 1997 20:25:09 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ed Pershey) The portability of the ETX proved true this summer. Carted it along with me from Cleveland to California, Arizona & New Mexico. Packed it in an old carry-on bag that I had, with homemade foam rubber cushions. It survived just great. The weather, however, proved disappointing. Only one good clear night the whole trip, but that one was spectacular at the Grand Canyon. We stayed at the old El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim, and after a rainy afternoon, the skies cleared up beautifully later on. I set up using the table top legs, on rocks along the walkway along the rim. Jupiter at 238x was incredible and M4 was nifty. Star images at 238x remained pinpionts and symmetrical. What optics! We had stayed in San Diego in CA, so while I didn't get any observing in there, I bought a Televue Qwik Point at Scope City. Installed it only after getting home last week. This laser pointer makes all the difference in using the ETX. Centering Polaris for equatorial alignment is a breeze now. I mounted the Qwik Point just using some double-sided mounting tape squares on the ETX tube toward the front end of the optical tube. Seems solid and in carrying the scope outside for three different observing sessions it has retained its alignment. Finally, I put another vote in for the Meade "Shorty" Barlow. Especially with the 17mm Celestron Plossel, the images at 147x are superb...even through the murkey skies of Cleveland! Ed Pershey Cleveland Heights, OH
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 1997 16:21:27 From: email@example.com (Rob Coutts) I was on the site again last night gathering feedback from various owners on eye-pieces. I currently have the standard SP 26mm and a #126 2x Barlow. I will probably get the 9.7mm and 12.4mm to avoid the duplication of powers. What do you think of the UWA 6.7mm? Rob
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 1997 01:03:48 From: firstname.lastname@example.org I concur with the individual comments regarding the JMI hard case and right-angle finderscope. The problems become compounded when you purchase both items. With the right-angle scope in a near vertical alignment, there is insufficent room to close the case without undue pressure on the finderscope eyepiece. The only solution is to rotate the finderscope so that the finderscope eyepiece is about 45 degrees to the viewing eyepiece. Then there will be adequate clearance of the case lid. The finderscope can still be used at this angle, but at an inconvenience.
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 1997 23:44:10 From: Jeff_Stevens@compuserve.com (Jeff Stevens) I was hoping that you might be able to help me, regarding an issue with the ETX scope that is causing me some confusion. I recently purchased an ETX, and have been busy following the instructions on how to Polar align the scope. I am happy with the basic process, but there is one issue that is puzzling me. According to the ETX manual, observers in the Northern Hemisphere should use the lower RA scale, as opposed to the upper one. I'm struggling to make sense of this, it appears to me that I should be using the upper RA scale of the two. After I had Polar aligned the scope I located Arcturus and checked the declination - which was correct. I then intended to set the RA scale in line with the right ascension for Arcturus and then try to see if I could use the Dec/RA coordinates to centre Vega in the eyepiece. Using the lower RA scale placed me way off target, but the upper scale worked out approximately right. Am I doing something fundamentally wrong ? Thanks in anticipation, Jeff Stevens.
Mike here: It appears that some ETX scopes have the RA setting circle upside down. So, if one side works for you and the other doesn't, use the side that works.
From: Jeff_Stevens@compuserve.com (Jeff Stevens) Many thanks Mike. I actually read an article about the ETX, shortly after sending this note, in the January edition of Sky & Telescope - they highlighted the problem as well. Cheers, Jeff.
Sent: Monday, August 11, 1997 23:41:08 From: email@example.com (Mike Eylar) I'm a Police Officer in Las Vegas and I have for some time been considering buying a Meade ETX Spotting scope. I was hoping you might have suggestions on the availibility of a used unit. Any help would be greatly appreciated Mike
Mike here: Check out the Starry Messenger Magazine. They specialize in used system advertisements.
Sent: Monday, August 11, 1997 19:07:50 From: Mjchapa@aol.com Well, I'm pretty sure I saw the GRS on Jupiter the other night. The seeing was great recently, and banding was impressive through 129X (w/9.7mm SP). With #126 2x Barlow, I'm getting OK results at 258X on nights with good seeing, fuzzy (what a surprise) otherwise. I've noticed some chromatic aberation (I think that's what it is) with my Barlow, has anyone used Meade's apo Barlow for comparison? I'm relatively color free with the SP 4000 line; it just seems to be with the Barlow. Otherwise, my very amateur opinion of the Barlow is that it is very good, especially for the low price. The images are not losing a lot of brightness, like I've heard predicted. Still looking for Cassini's division on Saturn... Mike
Sent: Monday, August 11, 1997 18:18:17 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (michael bridges) Keep up the great work with your web page. Your work adds value to my efforts as a novice astronomer. I find your web page a great resource for new product descriptions, find your photographs interesting, and sincerely appreciate your efforts to support the science of astronomy. I live in the High Desert not to far from you. I frequently stargaze at Red Rock Canyon, Owl Canyon campground (Near Barstow) and visited Kennedy Meadows this past weekend. I found other astronomers at Kennedy Meadows. At 6,500ft, the view is great and the camping is free. Like you, I have a Casio QV-10 I frequently use. I need to get a better mount for it. As technology marches forward, several improvements to these cameras will be made in the next year to make the ETX an even better toy. I'm surprised that Meade Corporation hasn't made you an employment opportunity in the ergonomics department. I hope they develop a bigger scope with the same portability. I think that they, and people like you are on to something good. Once again, keep up the great work! Respectfully, Michael Bridges
Sent: Monday, August 11, 1997 12:49:30 From: email@example.com (Florian Clement) Your ETX Web is great! I also think of buying a MEADE ETX. Do you know how much it costs here in Germany? 2.000,- DM, about 1.300 US $!!! I don't know if that telescope is worth _that_ price. Maybe I'll travel to the United States to get an ETX there, then I can pay the flight with the money I save :-))) best regards, Florian -- Florian Clement http://www.jura.uni-tuebingen.de/~clement
Sent: Sunday, August 10, 1997 20:20:14 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael ROCHFORT) I found a 2nd-hand but unused ETX for AUS$800. Meade have just started to sell them in Australia by direct mail order for AUS$895 so I am pretty pleased! I took the scope home last Friday night but, as Spode's law dictates, it was cloudy. However, it cleared up around 11:30pm, and I couldn't resist getting out the ETX to look at Jupiter, which was at about its highest point. Despite my suburban location, the view was magnificent! Even with only the 26mm eyepiece, 4 moons were visible, with one (I think Io) about to be eclipsed by Jupiter. Detail was also visible in the bands. Switching to the only other eyepiece I own, a Celestron MA 6mm, for about 209x, the view was much less sharp, but much better than the same eyepiece on my 4500 Newtonian. Using the same eyepiece, I viewed Saturn. I could not see the Cassini division, but could make out the shadow of the planet on the rings, and the suggestion of detail in the planet itself. The next night, I viewed Venus and the Moon before sunset. Venus was its normal featureless disk - apparently quite small at the moment - and the Moon was a magnificent crescent. I will definitely be modifying the drive, as I had already done to the (electronically identical) one for the 4500 newtonian (Feedback June 29). My particular ETX seems to run about 10 minutes slow over 2 hours! When I measure the voltage across the motor for the 4500 (using only an automotive dwell/voltage meter), and compare this to that of the ETX, the voltage seems about 0.5volt low. I will simply detach the existing wires from the motor, and attach an exteral jack to a control box I made up for the 4500 which contains a complete new circuit as outlined by Han Kleijn on your Guest Contribution page. Being a 2nd hand scope, I have no warranty to worry about losing. In the absence of any gearing or clutch problems, I think this voltage loss points to quality control problems with electronic circuitry and/or assembly. In the future, I intend to obtain, in order, a tripod much steadier than my current photographic one, or a sturdy but portable table, a better 6mm eyepiece, an illuminated reticle of 9-12mm, the camera adapter, either the Orion EZ Finder or the JMI 90 degree finder kit (try using the existing finder for objects near the zenith whilst lying on the ground!) and the JMI Motordec/Motorfocus, and the #126 Barlow. I am really keen to use my ETX for planetary photography and as a platform for my 35mm SLR and collection of lenses for wider angle astrophotography. When the drive is modified to be accurate, and with some of the above additions, it will beat using a barn door mount, and I have a great scope for visual use! Again, keep up the good work with your page! Michael Rochfort Senior Technical Support Officer Information Systems Division Central Sydney Area Health Service http://www.cs.nsw.gov.au Phone 61 2 9515 7332 Fax 61 2 9515 7294
Sent: Sunday, August 10, 1997 10:46:53 From: email@example.com (wayne fagerberg) I have used a 2X converter on my camera at prime focus to enlarge images and feel it works pretty well- altho it does soften the focus a little. Also, I recently purchased the table stand for the ETX from JMI and am pretty impressed with it. As is the ETX can not easily adjust for lattitudes above 43 which the table from JMI does in a whiz. It is also much more stable than the spindly legs of that come from Meade. You must turn on the drive motor before you polar align however since it can not be done once the scope is mounted on the table. The drive motor on my ETX is not very good and can only keep stars in field for 10-15 minutes and not at all steady enough for photography. Wayne
Sent: Sunday, August 10, 1997 10:33:59 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rob Coutts) Well Done!! I just bought my new Meade ETX yesterday at StarFest 97. StarFest is an annual star party held up in Canada every August. I am very pleased with the instrument. I checked out the Moon, Mars, Venus and Jupiter last night before the clouds rolled in. A gentleman I met at the show who also owns an ETX gave me this web site address. This is an outstanding site!! Once again - Well Done!! I have book marked this page as I know I will be back again quite often in the future. Rob Coutts Conestogo, Ontario, Canada
Sent: Thursday, August 7, 1997 17:59:25 From: Mjchapa@aol.com I found some interesting discussion on the AOL astronomy boards under Meade. Maybe some others can share their (unbiased, if there is such a thing) opinions of the C-5+. With my ETX I've seen Galilean moons transit the disc and several bands on Jupiter, but is it possible to see the GRS or the Cassini division in Saturn's rings with this scope? Thanks. Mike Chapa Dayton OH
Mike (W.) here: I remember being able to see the Cassini division in Saturn's rings with my Edmund 3" reflector in 1962 (I believe it was). I believe the ring plane was at more of an angle then than it is now. I don't recall seeing it when I was observing Saturn last Fall. But then I suffered from terrible seeing where I lived then. I'm anxious to see Saturn from my new location that has much better seeing.
Sent: Thursday, August 7, 1997 13:32:29 From: email@example.com (Mauro Alves) I am planning on buying a set of color filters for my ETX. My questions are the following: Is the regular starter set of filters #80A Medium Blue, #58 Green, #25 Red and #15 Yellow adequate for the ETX? Is planetary viewing with the ETX improved with the help of filters? which are the best for this scope? Thanks for the help. firstname.lastname@example.org Your site is great!
In a conversation with the technical spport from Meade I was told only to use color filter whose light transmission is higher than 70%. I also asked about nebular filters and the technician from Meade recomended me to look for a dark site to..... I think that this can be valuable information for the ETX owners.
Sent: Wednesday, August 6, 1997 20:45:46 From: email@example.com (CHARLES HAIR) I got one of Jim's Kwik Focus caps for my LX200 10", and it worked great. Being a half-blind old fart, I particullarly appreciated it -- now I can see how good I am. I made a small version for my new ETX that I use as a "scout", and it works too.
Sent: Tuesday, August 5, 1997 00:14:14 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron Simmons) Have you given any consideration yet to Microsoft IE4's use of Channels and Push Technology? This is one web site that I would like to have arriving regularly on my desktop. Keep up the good work. Ron
Mike here: Since I am currently on AOL and their offerings of web technology is limited, I doubt that I'll being doing any push stuff anytime soon. Once I move to cable modem technology, who knows what may happen with this web site!
Sent: Tuesday, August 5, 1997 10:06:46 From: email@example.com (Steve Goodman) Firstly can I say, "Great Site". When I first started looking into buying a telescope, I would never have imagined there is a web site devoted to one model, let alone make of scope! I need some help. Please can you advise me in my decision to buy my first scope. I am writing from London, where I live particularly high up and have great views across London (probably 8 - 15 miles). However if I get a scope, I would be interested in using it to also look at planets and maybe move onto stars... I am prepared to spend at least 500 english pounds (about 800 US dollars) and would spend some more if required for a better scope or accessories (perhaps a top limit of about the equivalent of 1,600 dollars - but equipment does look more expensive here than the US). I also want to buy new rather than second hand, and this is partly due to some of the fundings coming by way of a gift - and they have reasons for wanting it to be new (not just mint 2nd hand) I have been looking at a Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain - either a little one - the 90mm ETX - or a bigger one which is an 8 inch Meade LX10. I have been told I can buy adapters to get the image the right way round for terrestrial viewing for both. Ideally I need the scope to be fairly portable, since to get it on my roof which is flat, could be quite difficult - but this is not an absolute priority - so long as it is possible to do. I could take it out onto a patio. Either way, there is a lot of light pollution where I actually live (in a place called Hampstead), so that may make a difference on having something that is that much more portable. (Another telescope that has been suggested is the Celestron C5+.) I am still not even sure if I am better off with a Refractor or Reflector! Is there a particular Refractor you would recommend? Or which Reflector should I go for - I have been recommended the ETX, but then someone else described it as junk. Do I need a motor drive? - I am quite interested in doing some photography, particularly of the Moon / Planets. Since I am quite keen on doing some photography with the scope - will this make a difference in what I go for? How easy is it to take pictures through the scope (eg of the moon)? Is it easier with a reflector or does it not make any difference? Will I be dissapointed quickly with a refractor? Is a reflector too clumsy? Can a reflector really be used for terestrial viewing? (someone has said that because of the mirror system and some spider mounting, it is not that great for daylight viewing) How much of a pain is it to track manually - is it worth getting a motor? I have also heard (from the person that described the ETX as junk) - that the motor on the ETX is pretty useless as the batteries wear down very quickly, causing the motor to run slowly. How much detail do you really get to see? Some key advice that I have had was that aperature is all important - and this, plus stability of a small telescope is what is throwing me. Refractors only generally go up to about 3.5 inches or maybe 4 inches at a push - and they seem bulky and relatively expensive. For the same money, you can get a much bigger reflector, but these are bulkier, and - apparantly - not much good for terrestrial viewing. Most of the time, my guess is it will be set up in a bedroom looking roughly south out of a window. I may consider taking it abroad with me on holidays, or around the UK, if there is a big benefit to avoid light pollution - but this might rule out something like the 8 inch LX10 . I think I have narrowed it down to 5 : Celestron Great Polaris GP-C102 (4inch refractor) Celestron Firstscope 80 EQ (3.1 inch, but a fair bit cheaper) Celestron C5+ (more expensive - but looks far more sturdy than the ETX in the brochure, and still portable) Meade 90mm ETX Astro - (looks a bit small, but that could be a benefit) Meade 8 inch LX10 - (looks a bit big, but that could be a benefit?) Sorry I have so many questions - but it seems impossible to get any real advice here in the UK- there are no local astronomy clubs which are anywhere near me, and I think Meade seem to have the edge on range of products, accessories etc. I did put out a similar question on the Advanced Meade User Group site, but I am getting little in the way of response. I have only been looking into this for a week or so, and I am getting more confused all the time. I never realised the choice would be so complex! Please help - I hope you can find the time Thanks Steve Goodman
Thanks a lot for getting back to me. I posted the enquiry on the MAPUG list, and only after realised I could contact you directly and wasn't sure if you would read my message on the list anyway. Tried your site again yesterday, and downloaded the quicktime VR of the ETX which was interesting - reminded me how it really looks. From your note, it implies the ETX is not any good for taking photos using the drive - am I reading that right (particularly, I am quite keen to do high magnification shots of the moon - and it did look like that can be done from the pictures in your gallery!). I have had an amazing response from the MAPUG list, and have been replying individually, but there are so many Emails posted, it looks impossible to read them all - for now I am just concentrating on those that look directly related to my request. I think I will have to Unsubscribe soon, and subscribe again when I have better knowledge of the subject. Nevertheless, I am beginning to think that the ETX is the one for me, and maybe I will get a bigger scope later as well if I really get into it. One question though, are the eyepieces interchangeable between all Meades scopes? And the adapters, Barlows....? Hope to talk again soon, I will let you know how I get on, but I have heard there is a six month ETX waiting list in the UK! Many thanks Regards Steve
Mike here: Yes, the MAPUG list is very active. I'm glad that many people responded to you; gives you a good perspective. The ETX can do astrophotography, as shown on my and Guest Gallery pages. The best shots are of bright objects like the Moon and planets where short exposures work. I'm still experimenting with longer duration exposures. Eyepieces, barlow lens, astrophotography accessories are all interchangeable, not only among the Meade scopes but any telescope that accepts the standard 1.25" components. Some telescopes use 0.965" and some use 2.0" so there are adapters available if you need them. You might contact The Nature Company (firstname.lastname@example.org) or one of the USA dealers that advertise in the astronomy magazines. They might ship to you. Good luck.
Sent: Monday, August 4, 1997 21:13:19 From: Mjchapa@aol.com Great Site! I've had my ETX for about a month and am very pleased. I found the link from the FAQ-- http://metxug.elendil.com/newltr/newsindx.html to be something else ... has it moved? Cost aside, what do YOU think of the C-5+ v. the ETX? Lastly, a little tidbit someone else may find useful. I've found the hood of my sport utility vehicle makes an excellent, stable location to place my ETX. Not to mention the fact that the vehicle is already with me in the "field" or driveway. Thanks. Keep up the great site! Mike Chapa Dayton OH
Sent: Monday, August 4, 1997 17:11:16 From: email@example.com (Michael & Lori Nicholas) Is anyone currently using optical encoders to point the ETX? Would appreciate comments. In response to one user, the JMI Motodec and Motofocus are excellent additions that improve the handling of the 'scope. I was told from Lumicon that if I bought the aluminum hardware for the optical encoders from JMI, I could by more accurate encoders and computer from Lumicon for a considerable savings? Is anyone doing this or using encoders?? Mike Nicholas Paducah, Ky.
Sent: Monday, August 4, 1997 13:53:12 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Clay Ramsey) As a beginning 41 year-old astrowannabe, I want to thank you for putting up this page about the ETX. I have been doing binocular astronomy now for about 6 months, and am just about to succumb to the more aperture bug. I have been thinking strongly about a Meade 6" Starfinder Eq Newtonian as my "first" scope, but am being more and more swayed to consider the ETX as my first telescope. I really appreciate all of the real-life, no marketing information you have provided. Thanks again, Clay Ramsey email@example.com
Sent: Monday, August 4, 1997 10:38:11 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Janowicz) Mike, your page continues to be an amazing source of information for the ETX! There have been several good posts on tripods but I wanted to add my two cents. I built my own wedge from 3/8" plywood which bolts to the center post of a Bogen 3211 (using three 6 mm bolts). I was not happy with either my Bogen fluid or regular heads because there was not enough contact between the head and the base of the ETX to provide a super stable connection, the head interfered with access to the drive switch, and the center of balance for the scope was not over the center of the tripod. The sides of the wedge use plywood cut at my latitude angle, but a clever individual could make easily make an adjustable wedge. The front part of the wedge is left open so I can attach the scope to the wedge using a 1/4" bolt. A wing nut on this bolt allows me to secure the ETX base to the wedge. A larger hole above the 1/4" mounting hole provides easy access to the power switch. Using the wedge to change the center of gravity over the center of the tripod made a significant change in the stability of the Bogen mount. JMI now has a commercially made version of this idea (which is adjustable), but mine only cost me .60 for the three metric bolts since I had everything else in my "useful scraps" warehouse. Larry Janowicz Systems Analyst The MetroHealth System (216) 778-4053 email@example.com
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