Last updated: 31 December 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: I continue to receive error messages when sending out the Site Update Notifications. As mentioned on the Site Subscription page, if your address bounces for any reason it will be removed from the subscription list. A typical error is MAILBOX FULL or UNKNOWN USER. If you stop receiving update notices please check your email system. You will have to re-subscribe if your address has been removed due to a mail handling error.
Subject:	picture
Sent:	Monday, December 31, 2001 16:12:15
From: (John&Janet Fournier)
mike what model etx are you shown with on your web page??
Mike here: The original ETX model, circa 1996 (now known as the ETX-90RA), with some Photoshop editing as the "Mighty ETX".
Subject:	new scope
Sent:	Monday, December 31, 2001 12:01:37
From: (John&Janet Fournier)
i am considering buying a mead 8" lx10 telescope in the next few do you think this compares with an etx 125c? also after
reading all the complaints etc re- defective scopes from meade etc- what
should i be looking for or asking from the dealer? i live near toronto
ont. so there are only a few places to choose from such as efston
science etc.
thank you for any help
Mike here: I have no experience with the LX10. Which telescope is right for you depends upon your expectations and how YOU will use it. You need to decide upon that; then make your purchasing decision accordingly. Certainly larger aperture has its purpose but so may portability. Think about the decision first.


thank you for the reply-i think i will go with the etx- you are right-
portability is a great factor as is the autostar feature i think 

i will get back to you when i get the scope

Subject:	Help Please!!!
Sent:	Sunday, December 30, 2001 17:15:29
Mike,  first of all let me please applaud you for such a "Top Shelf" web
page ...

Thanks to people such as yourself, even begginers can easily be drawn in
to such a wonderful hobby!!

If i may,  just one question for you...I recently purchased my
ETX125...and although i haven't even used the "autostar " yet i feel
there is going to be a serious relathionship between myself and the
stars. My question is simply this..As i have read quite a bit of all
opinions and insites listed by yourself and others who participate on
your page i have noticed there is definitely a sort of "envy" for the
"LX200" models.. I just happen ,"to once-in-my-life" be in the position
to purchase a Lx200 10" from meade....meaning the money is there from
and odd job that i did $3000.00 , do you  think im being
a complete fool? whould you do it? whould you stick with the "ETX" given
this oppurtunity?  Is it going to be a dramatic diffrence between these
scopes?  Please help me i need direction in this matter and i really
feel you are just the man to help me..               sincerly,  Erick

ps. In truth i am a novice and have never explored space in any depth,
but hope to do photography and all the other good
Mike here: Which telescope is right for you? Only you can say, depending upon your expectations and intended usage. Certainly the LX200 series is a standout but will you get your monies worth? Is portability important to you? The best telescope to own is one that actually gets used, rather than one sitting in a closet. So, decide how you want to use a telescope and then make your decision. One other factor to keep in mind: amateur astronomy is like any hobby. You WILL be spending more money on it as you add accessories, books, etc. Good luck with the decision. (By the way, would I like to have an LX200? Sure! Do I own one? Nope. Do I plan on owning one in the near future? Nope. Would I go for an LX90 8"? You bet! Would I keep the ETX-90? You bet!)


mike, thanx for the comments it is truely appreciated...but....when you
made the comment:.  (By the way, would I like to have an LX200?  Sure! 
Do I own one?  Nope.  Do I plan on owning one in the near future?  Nope.
Would I go for an LX90 8"? You bet!  Would I keep the ETX-90?  You

are you saying the lx200 is to combersome or just that you feel ..its
complete overkill? you like the lx90 8" should i go for that one ? as
far as portability goes i believe i will just be a backyarder not to much moving besides backyard to front yard...    
Mike here: Cumbersome, weight, or lots of pieces to connect; it doesn't matter. If you get tired of hauling everything outside (or if you are physically unable to move everything), then the telescope is of no use to you. The ETX line is fairly lightweight, meaning that most people will have no difficulties moving and setting it up. The LX90 8" _is_ a large telescope system but for the price, it sure is nice! But if you decide that you can handle the LX200 (the larger aperture the better) AND you plan to get into astrophotography in a big way (by the way, how dark is your backyard???), then it could be the right scope for you. But if your location suffers from light pollution then your astrophotography will likely be limited to the Moon, the Sun (with the protections), and the planets.


thank you so much for your patience ...and your insite ...perhaps i will
stick with the lx90 8" ......i only hope i can still participate on your
site with it ,as i know in-general most all are ETX users..... ps. back
yard is great (very dark)both neighbors on either side are "light's-out"
at 9pm latest!!
Mike here: There are many LX90 users who visit the Site since it uses the Autostar as well and there are many general tips/info on the Site that are applicable to all users.

And this:

<<<<<<<<<<<<< Shakin-Your-Hand >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>sincerly, Erick
see you on the page

Subject:	Barlow v Lens Optical Quality
Sent:	Sunday, December 30, 2001 16:11:52
From: (John & Anna Tait)
I am about to purchase my first additional lens for my ETX-90EC.  I have
read about the advantages of using a Barlow, however, will there be any
quality loss in using such a device?  For example, will using the 26mm
with a x2 Barlow give the same optical quality as a 12.4mm lens?

Thank you

Mike here: If the eyepieces are of excellent quality, adding a Barlow Lens to reach the same focal length will deteriorate the image somewhat because you are adding something to the optical path. However, for many users this will be of minor consequence.


Thank you for your swift reply.  I will use the Mead #126 Barlow - may
as well stick with what little I know!.  As I have to do evrything mail
order, I really appreciate a site I can go to from which I can get the
'honest broker' approach.

Subject:	FOV ETX Viewfinder 8 x21
Sent:	Sunday, December 30, 2001 8:23:56
From: (Alex Gibson)
The Field of View for the 8 x 25 viewfinder on the ETX 125 is 7.5
degrees as stated in Meade's online catalog. However they do not specify
the FOV for the 8 x 21 viewfinder on my ETX 90 although the ETX manual
calls it a wide field. I have contacted a few astronomy shops and asked
a few dealers for this information but have received answers between 5
and 7 degrees for the FOV.

I haven't tried the star timing method (too cold these nights) and was
wondering if any of your web page visitors have this information.

Thanks - Alex Gibson

Subject:	Light Leak fix question
Sent:	Saturday, December 29, 2001 15:13:03
From:	tyson@AI.SRI.COM (Mabry Tyson)
In Clay Sherrod
suggests putting a piece of firm black foam in place to block the light
that can sneak in  under the OTA.

What I wonder about is whether the foam may have volatile material that,
over time, will sublimate and get into the telescope and contaminate the

My inclination would be to coat the foam with something such as tape
that would block this evaporation.  Of course, any glue on tape would be
a problem.   Two kinds of tape come to mind.  I worry about photographic
black tape as I expect it might be permeable to whatever gases might
leak.  Black electrician's plastic tape seems a better candidate.  I've
had a 3" wide roll for more than 10 years and it seems to not have

One might use such black tape to tape over these openings in a pinch,
but that would leave the glue side towards the optics and so would not
seem to be good for a long term fix.

I was looking at the design that allows this light in.  It would have
been cheap for them to put plastic caps on the screw holes or to seal
them by using a solid piece of plastic (rather than the one with two
holes).  For the life of me, I can not understand why they didn't design
the plastic piece so that there was little or no opening towards the
front.  It would seem to have been the easier design to produce.  Could
there be some reason to allow air in and out here?  If one sealed this
up tightly, could air pressure changes (such as shipping or taking a
telescope with eyepiece mounted onto a plane) cause problems?  Clearly
you wouldn't need more than a pinhole opening to allow pressure
And further:
I thought a bit more about why there is the opening that allows the
light leak.

The OTA can't be completely sealed as you open it for adding the lens
(or the camera or other accessory at the rear).  Even if you could seal
it, there might be a problem with air pressure changes such as on an
airplane.  Therefore the OTA will get the surrounding air with its
moisture into it.

Since moist air can get into the OTA, they needed to design the OTA so
that the moist air will easily escape, yet dust won't easily get into
the scope. It would be a real problem if you got condensation inside the
scope.  This is probably the reason for the opening under the OTA.

If this is so, I think it is probably not a good idea to use foam to
block that opening under the OTA.  (Blocking the screw holes is probably
ok.)  If you reduce the air flow between the inside and outside of the
telescope, you may increase the chance of condensation forming on the

Instead, I would consider using something such as a piece of black
opaque material (e.g. satin) that is taped to the OTA with a flap of
material that hangs down loosely in front of the opening by, say, 1/2". 
This should block the light in all reasonable orientations of the

One could also cut a piece of black cardboard to fit orthogonally to the
OTA and use tape to attach it.  It would hang in front of the opening
and you wouldn't have to worry about lint.

Subject:	ETX tuneup part 1 vs part 4
Sent:	Saturday, December 29, 2001 15:11:35
From:	tyson@AI.SRI.COM (Mabry Tyson)
I've only recently found your site and its excellent information. Great

I surely wish my retailer or Meade would have supplied me with your URL
when I got my telescope (it was a gift from my wife, so I wasn't even in
on its purchase).  It would have helped to have the understanding that
the problems I had were intrinsic to the manufacture versus my own
ineptitude or ignorance.  I think Meade would do well to try to connect
the novice users with those with more experience.  The result might put
off a few buyers as "This is too complicated" but I think it will
provide more users with a "Hey! Now it works wonderfully!" experience
which they will share with other potential buyers.  My own reaction has
been (until recently), "This sometimes seems to work wonderfully, but
other times it inexplicably doesn't work right, and I don't have the
knowledge or time to figure it out."

[Hmmm...  Consider providing a page to be printed that contains a number
of "business cards" that give the URL for your site.  Then people that
find your site useful could print this out and give them to their
retailer to pass out to new buyers.]

There is a tremendous amount of useful information at your site.  I've
been reading through the various mechanical tune up information so as to
understand the issues (both relative to my own experience and the
experience of those whose scope has had more wear and stress).

However, as in any collection of information gathered over time, new
information may replace old information and unless one is careful,
things can get confusing.  For those who are new to the site, this can
lead to misunderstanding.  Old pros won't likely notice the issues.

There are apparently differing techniques for minimizing declination
slippage in two of Clay Sherrod's great series of tune-up tips.  I would
suggest that the older one (in part 1) get a note indicating the newer
technique (in part 4) is better (assuming my understanding is correct).

In under the
"Declination 'slop' in the trunions.  He indicates the use of some
teflon tape to reduce play in the trunions.  I have to admit that I
wasn't sure that this "slop" applied to my scope as he describes a "back
and forth" rocking of the OTA.  If he meant "up and down", then I have
that slop.  But if he meant "forward and back" or "side to side" (which
is what I would take as "back and forth"), then I don't see such slop.

In the second paragraph of that step, he talks of possibly using a fiber
washer under the declination circles.

In part 4, (which
appears to be added months later),  he *seems* to be speaking of the
same problem but he now describes it as "Altitude Rocking" and describes
the "up and down" movement.  He also seems to refer to the fiber washer
solution where he talks of a '3/4" washer'.

If indeed this part 4 is intended to replace the above step 2, then I
would encourage the amendment of part 1 to replace its Declination step
2 with a pointer to part 4.  If part 4 is to replace other steps in part
1, I missed that.

Should Clay Sherrod consider updating his excellent material, I would
suggest having a parts and tools list so one can know they have the
right materials and tools before they start.  The same goes for the
Scopetronix tune-up.  Readers might also be reminded to review all the
instructions before they start so they can make sure they understand
everything.  I would encourage readers to NOT attempt any procedure if
they don't fully understand either the technique or the reason, or if
they believe the reason doesn't apply to their scope.  Old pros may know
all this, but a eager newbie might just screw something up that he
didn't need to touch.  The newbie can't tell whether a procedure was
just someone's passing thought or whether everyone should do the

I will mention that I didn't see Clay Sherrod's offer of tune-up service
until after I had read through all the tune-up details.  If it had been
in part 1, then it would be quite obvious and might be used by more
people that aren't tinkerers.  [That offer might also go on the business
cards I mentioned above.]

Thanks again!

	Mabry Tyson
Mike here: Yes, the Site is a collection of material from over 5 years of ETX experiences. Some is still current and other info, while useful, may not always apply to current models. As to supplying cards for dealers, lets see, there are thousands of dealers out there. Maybe someone would be willing to print the cards, collect the addresses, and mail them out. I'm not set up for that (pledges have been good but not THAT good)! But many dealers, and certainly Meade, are aware of this Site and frequently refer buyers to it. I will forward your message to Clay for his consideration.


Re the cards:  I did not mean for you to print them out.  I meant for a
person that uses your site to print out a page and give them to his
Mike here: Now that's an idea! Everyone should print out the Home Page and take a copy to their local dealer. I have given some cards to a few local dealers (and some when I've traveled) but this would give wider exposure. Nice! Thanks. [If anyone does this, let me know the dealer's reaction.]

And this:

From: (Clay Sherrod)
Very nice comments and suggestions from Mabry Tyson.  Regarding the Part
1 vs.Part 4 of the Enhancement Guides, the "fixes" described are
actually two totally different remedies for the same problem;  indeed,
in some cases the fix with the Teflon tape will work fine and take care
of the problem....however some scopes have this play on the non-driven
side fork arm and that described in Part 4 is a better solution.

Some telescopes need BOTH....some none at all!


Subject:	corrective eye lenses for astronomy
Sent:	Saturday, December 29, 2001 2:57:15
From: (Clay Sherrod)
The idea of corrective lenses for diopter correction at the telescope is
a priceless one and I am encouraging all optics companies out there
worldwide to start on this project immediately.  I mean RIGHT NOW.

On a serious note, your suggestion is a good one, but there are several
factors that have prevented this from happening and likely will for the
foreseeable future, whether you make yourself, or someone begins
supplying them:

1) the corrective filter, as Mike points out MUST be in the optical path
of focused light between the "eye lens" (that closest to your eye) and
your eyeball to be effective; one placed on the filter end will not
serve any corrective purposes;

2) the diopter correcting lens would have to be of exceptional optical
quality; ordinary eyeglasses are the worst element in the train of
optics when observing with your eyeglasses and/or contract lenses on. 
Remember that the optical system you are using (in this case a class-act
premium on with the ETX system) is ONLY as good as its worst component,
and that by all means will be the horribly corrected wavefront of your

3) diopter corrector lenses (those made to attach to the viewfinders of
good 35mm cameras) are not made much better than eyeglass lenses.

4) the diopter corrective element MUST be mounted perfectly
perpendicular to the light path to be effective; you can look through
one side of your glasses and notice distortion not seen in the other;
this will be similar for the diopter lens.

I have been cursed with eyeglass since I have been involved in astronomy
for over 30 years....I must remove my glasses to focus and to
observe...put them back on to read charts, the Autostar or reference
books....etc, etc.

Contact lenses help (I have even tried having a diopter-correcting lens
made for just my right eye which helped, but my eyes "reject" contacts
by spitting them out poste haste upon the floor).  However, contacts
must be extremely clean and film free or all images will present halos
or distortion.

Good luck...if you are successful I will gladly send you my prescription
and a hefty check.  Great idea and I very much wish you success on
behalf of all of us "focally-challenged" astronomers out here!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
From: (Doug Drossman)
Hey Clay, thanks for responding. What I am talking about is cylinder
correction with no diopter correction. This would make the lens much
thinner and would just correct for astigmatism. You would still need to
focus for your own correction. I believe this would provide for a
sharper image and would more than make up for the extra lens in the
light path. Also I could make the lens out of glass which might be
better than plastic. Also I think I can make a mount for the lens to
mount onto the top of the eyepiece. The corrective lens would sit right
against the top of the eyepiece and I believe this will work! I have to
call some optical companies to see which type of lens material would
work best. The types I know of is plastic, glass, and polycarbonate. You
know, as I'm writing this I am thinking that you actually could cut a
full corrective lens (Both corrective power and cylinder). As long as
the optics are clear, the benefits of a sharper image should be well
worth it. I'll let you know how this project works out for me.

Doug D.
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Doug - it is a great idea and I wish you success (selfishly!) on are correct in the astigmatism corrective mode being
facilitated in this manner.  If you go for a cylinder, I think you must
be very careful in selecting GLASS (only) of a very low refractive index
(likely fluorite is the best choice and most expensive, although some of
the artificial stuff that is out now is equally good if not better.

Keep in touch and best of luck!

P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	tripod clamps and vibration dampeners
Sent:	Saturday, December 29, 2001 0:51:28
From: (Dave Adriance)
Hi Gary,

I read your review on the Weasner site.  For what it's worth, I
purchased the Celestron vibration dampeners nearly two years ago and
they have made all the difference in the world.  I always set up the 125
on our concrete balcony - with the dampeners, the vibration is very
noticably reduced, if not eliminated.

I agree that the costs begin to add up on these additional acquisitions
- but think that this is one investment that is well worth it in terms
of improving the quality of your viewing experience.

Best regards,


Dave Adriance

Subject:	Re: 497 troubles, photos
Sent:	Friday, December 28, 2001 21:19:17
From: (Jim Howard)
it's in at the place that I bought it now, so i am goto-less for a while
while Meade decides how they want to handle it I guess.

Thanks for all your ideas.  I will let you know what happens.

Check out some of the pics I have taken with my small etx-90ec if you
want.  I am fairly happy with some of my later
ones, as I am getting the various systems figured out.  I just wish the
autostars would stop croaking on me.


Subject:	Meade AC adapter
Sent:	Friday, December 28, 2001 4:24:40
From: (Victor van Wulfen)
Could you tell me what the exact specifications (volts&amps) for the
Meade #541 AC adater is? I'm trying to get my powersource as close to
the Meade specification as possible.


Mike here: According to various reports:
15.2-15.8 VDC (without load)
1.5 amp
Subject:	Comparisons!
Sent:	Thursday, December 27, 2001 22:44:05
I currently own a Meade ETX-90EC and I am Happy with
is optical performance, I would like to know if you have ever compared
the ETX-90EC & ETX-105EC & ETX-125EC sided by side???  using the same
power eyepiece & viewing the same celestial object, would I be able to
tell the optical  performance difference between the scopes??

Sincerely: Joseph Perez
Mike here: The only comparisons I've done are noted on this Site. The only side-by-side comparisons did not include the -105 as it was not released at that time. And yes, you would be able to tell the difference when viewing through these scopes.
Subject:	Nikon Coolpix 995
Sent:	Thursday, December 27, 2001 18:15:51
From: (divenuts)
I just wanted to thank you for your generous help to my wife Jeanne
Callaghan in helping her pick out an excellent digital camera for my
surprise Christmas present. You gave her unbiased and wonderful
recommendations. She told me of your quick responses to her questions
and advice via e-mail. Last year she surprised me with an ETX-125 and
your website has been an invaluable source of help. She knew I had
always had an interest in astronomy, but was limited to a pair of
binoculars I had mounted on a camera tripod. Your assistance with
information is truly appreciated. I would also like to thank and
recommend Jordan Blessing, owner of Scopetronix for his honest answers
and honesty. I think he is a very reputable dealer with competitive
prices and excellent customer service.
Thanks again!
Chuck Callaghan

Subject:	ETX-70AT versus ETX-90EC
Sent:	Thursday, December 27, 2001 16:24:10
From: (Jason DeSousa)
Your site has been a great source of information for me. Keep up the
good work. I recently bought a ETX-70 and I enjoy using it quite a bit.
I am considering buying a ETX-90. Could you please give me an idea of
just how much better the ETX-90 is than the ETX-70. Is worth the extra
expense and will the images I see be that much better? Any information
you could give would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time.
Mike here: See my ETX-70AT Comments linked from the top of the current "ETX-60AT, ETX-70AT" feedback page. There are some telescope comparisons there. Also, read through the various User Observations reports. As to which scope will meet your desires and expectations, only you can answer that. However, generally, the larger the aperture the more light gathering power and the higher usable magnifications are. Of course, the larger the telescope the less portable it is. The ETX-90 and -105 are nice compromises on aperture and portability.
Subject:	electric eyepiece from meade
Sent:	Thursday, December 27, 2001 15:44:56
From: (AMEN)
X-mass was great Especially If you get great presents like I did this
The electric ocular from Meade .
And I must say It is as easy to use as is the etx-90 itself
What I really wanted is to tell you guy's was a small review, but the
sky was filled with snow and rain and rain and rain :-(
So as soon as I get a clear sky I can tell a small story whether to buy
or not to buy it.

What I can tell is that it has a monochrome lo-res (320x240)   CMOS chip
it uses a standard 9 volt battery and it has a contrast regulator.

Subject:	ETX70AT vs ETX90
Sent:	Thursday, December 27, 2001 15:38:30
From: (brant smith)
Thank you very much for the information provided on your website.  I
have found it to be very useful.  I was lucky enough to receive a
ETX70AT for Christmas, but I was told that what was important was to
have the telescope that I wanted, and would make me happy for a long
time.  So I set out searching, and am trying to compare the ETX70AT, the
EXT90EC, the EXT90RA, and the DS114 telescopes, while only being able to
use the ETX70AT.

Basically, I am wondering if the 90EC is really worth the extra cost
($300 vs $800 for a package with tripod and Autostar).  How much extra
light is allowed by the 90EC?  What kind of additional details might I
see?  I have found deals for the 90RA, but it lacks the Autostar (which
may be ok).  The difference between the DS114 and the 70AT isn't cost,
it appears to be convenience as the DS114 is much larger.  Are there
other differences of note to a amateur?  Are there additional durability
issues between the scopes?

Overall I am extremely pleased with the ETX70AT, on a hazy night I made
out Saturn's rings, and stripes on Jupiter.  I have no expectations of
Hubbell quality images, but would love to see nebula, constellations,
double stars, etc.  I seem to have alignment down (perfectly level and
pointed at true north seem to be the key).

I appreciate any information you can give me.

Thank you in advance,

Brant Smith
Mike here: See my ETX-70AT Comments linked from the top of the current "ETX-60AT, ETX-70AT" feedback page. There are some telescope comparisons there. As to which scope will meet your desires and expectations, only you can answer that. However, generally, the larger the aperture the more light gathering power and the higher usable magnifications are. Of course, the larger the telescope the less portable it is. The ETX-90 and -105 are nice compromises on aperture and portability.


Thanks for your lightning fast response.  I probably shouldn't have
asked such a subjective question.  I guess I was looking for "far
superior," "superior," or "moderately better" type of ratings.

So let me be less subjective, if you don't mind.  Do you know the %
light difference between the ETX70 and ETX 90?  I can't find that
anywhere.  Also, what is an "arc sec" in terms of resolving power?  Is
0.3 really that big of a difference (subjective, I know)?  What is
Limiting Visual Stellar Magnitude?

I have read through several articles on your website, and appreciate the
information provided.  I found, under the ETX125 section, a comparison
of the ETX125, 90, and 70 where you did say the ETX90 was "hands down"
better than the ETX70.  So, I am tempted, but I am just trying to
understand a few more things.
Mike here: Well, you can't quite compare the ETX-70AT and ETX-90EC. They are different designs (one a refractor and one a Cassegrain-Maksutov). Light gathering capability is a matter of the aperture area. So, yes. the -90 has more than the -70 but you lose some due to the central obstruction. And then you throw in the difference in focal length, 350mm vs 1250mm. That counts for a lot if you are want to use high magnifications. But then you have to keep in mind that the max usable magnification is roughly twice the aperture in millimeters, which isn't that much different between the -70 and -90. But then you have to consider the aperture again as more light gathering power means images will not be as dimmed by increasing the magnification. Yes, this can get somewhat involved. So, it comes down to: do you want a wide field instrument (the ETX-70AT) or one more suited to planetary observing (the ETX-90EC)? As to the definition of "arc second", consider that there are 60 seconds of angular "distance" in a minute and 60 minutes of angular separation in a degree. The Moon is about a 1/2 degree in angular diameter. Resolving power of telescopes describe the theoretical minimum separation of objects you can see, whether they are double stars or features on the Moon. The smaller the number the more details you can theoretically see. But there are many factors which can prevent you from seeing this good, including the type and quality of eyepieces, Barlow Lenses, filters, the atmospheric conditions, and the temperature differential of the air in the telescope tube vs the outside air. Similarly, the limiting magnitude is the faintest object you could see under ideal conditions and can be affected by the same sets of factors. Hope this helps and doesn't confuse you further.
Subject:	coorective filter lens
Sent:	Thursday, December 27, 2001 0:21:27
From: (Doug Drossman)
Just wondering if you ever ran across a company offering corrective
lenses as screw on filters for eyepieces? Im talking about just the
cyclinder correction for astigmatism. No added power. This info would be
most appreciated. I have experience in eyewear and access to a lab so if
you know the specs as far as the filter diameters and if I can buy
filter blanks to cut the lenses myself to manufacture a custom filter,
let me know. This would seem to be a good alternative to wearing
glasses. Thanks. I never used a filter before so Im not sure exactly how
they are put together. Thanks.
Doug D.
Mike here: I don't know if this would work or not. The eyepiece magnifies the image at the focal plane of the telescope. Adding a correcting lens before the light enters the eyepiece would distort the image at the focal plane and then that distortion would be magnified.


Thank you. BTW, if the correcting lens was placed after the eyepiece it
may work better. I wonder if it's possible to mount it on top of the
eyepiece? Anyway we'll see if someone else has any ideas. Later.

Subject:	Thanks
Sent:	Wednesday, December 26, 2001 22:23:04
From: (CSN admin)
Your time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, and diligence in mainatining
this massive site is most appreciated. I have learned more here in 45
minutes than I would have in 45 hours of fumbling around, especially
with all the newbie questions which is the information I was after being
a newbie to star gazing. This is a reference point which I'm sure I will
wear out as I learn to play with my new toy. While I wish I could send
you money, (Santa took all mine but did leave me a nice DS-2130ATE under
the tree) my sincere thanks is all I can offer. You are the embodiment
of all that is right with the Internet.

Nice award by the way, you should be proud of the work that you are
doing. You are truly making a difference.


Mike Wardell
Dir of Technology
Murfreesboro City Schools
Murfreesboro TN

Subject:	electric focuser
Sent:	Wednesday, December 26, 2001 15:53:52
Received an electric focuser for my etx 125.  when i was installing, i
came upon a stripped (i think) set screw on my focus knob.  i've tried
and tried and can't the screw to turn or the knob to budge.  the small
hex wrench works fine for the focusing gear but slips around the knob's
set screw.  any ideas how to get this removed?  i don't want to pull on
it to hard for fear of really scewing things up.

Mike here: Several users have reported that the setscrew is very tight. Others have found that they were not getting the hexkey fully inserted and so not even reaching the setscrew.
Subject:	Coming Soon!
Sent:	Wednesday, December 26, 2001 14:51:53
From: (Victor van Wulfen)
A complete report on my homemade (European) Supercharge will follow,
with pictures. For now I can advise to anyone considering an ETX update:
if you're not familiar with the ETX internals, let Clay take care of it.
I found out what can go wrong. Then again, I am now thoroughly familiar
with every screw and nut attached to this blue beauty and hope to pass
on this newly acquired knowledge to the readers of your site.



Subject:	Re: ETX Battery Power Failure Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, December 26, 2001 12:51:20
From: (Cris-Emily Carter)
Mike, Thanks for the quick reply.  When I flip the power switch on the
ETX base, absolutely nothing happens.  No lights, hums, etc.  I am very
mechanical for a girl but even houdini could not plug this in
incorrectly. The other port is too small.  I work with networks a lot so
am pretty good at ports and even my brawny, macho husband could not
release these.  Will try again now that I am more patient and rested. 
Thanks, emily carter
Mike here: Since the power ON indicator does NOT illuminate and no power is getting to the controllers, I think we can assume something is wrong. If the batteries are inserted correctly, the most likely problem is a wire has become disconnected or cut. Since the scope is new, return it for an exchange.
Subject:	Strait Through Seeing Problems
Sent:	Wednesday, December 26, 2001 11:34:40
the thing that u is being threaded onto spins off but even when it is
open the thing itself can rotate...i noticed this when i got my camera
adapter! I Put the camera on the camera adapter and the camera and
attached it to the telescope and it shakes becsause the whole thing
rotates(I hope I explained my self well enough for u to
understand?)!...should i talk to mead or the store first that i got it
from?I got it from the discovery channel store...can u get me some
answers please? thanx
Mike here: The threaded attachment point should not rotate. Talk to your dealer. If the scope is new you should be able to exchange it.
Subject:	Drive running continuously
Sent:	Wednesday, December 26, 2001 9:08:37
From: (Bob Becker)
We are just setting up the ETX 90EC and I have a question about the
standard controller.  When attached, all seems fine..the lights light up
properly and the telescope does move in all directions.  All the speeds
seem fine.  My question is...Should the motor be running all the time? 
After you move the telescope either up/down or left/right, the motor
stops for a second, then seems to start up again.  There is NO movement
of the telescope, just the sound of the motor.  Is that normal!
Mike here: That is likely the Right Ascension drive running. It moves the telescope to compensate for the Earth's rotation to track celestial objects. So, yes, that is normal.
Subject:	piggyback
Sent:	Tuesday, December 25, 2001 15:56:56
From: (Roland Schwarz)
Is there a piggyback camera adaptor available for the 90ext?

Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page.
Subject:	Christmas ETX 2 years and going strong!
Sent:	Tuesday, December 25, 2001 14:17:05
From: (Thomas Brown)
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all readers of this site.  I got an
ETX 90 EC as a Christmas present two years ago and just looked at my
first posting from early Jan 2000, still beginning and not sure that I'd
ever catch on with astronomy.  A year later, I was getting an "upgrade"
from the 90 to the 125 and in the past year, I've had a wonderful time
with the larger scope. Things which I would never have believed you
could see from a light polluted suburban backyard [M-1 for example, or
the "little dumbell"] are easy objects today, lunar crater chains,
rills, etc are becoming familar landscapes, and the GRS on Jupiter and
Cassini division, which I never thought I'd see when I began, are easy
objects.  Yes, experience at the eyepiece does matter.  For new readers
of this site, stick with it, the sky is a wonderful place to get to
know, and the ETX is a great way of getting to know it.  Thanks for a
great and helpful site your advise and that of Clay Sherrod has been
invaluable [and his sky guides are great resources].

Tom Brown
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hey Tom - what a nice Christmas present!  Let's make it an "even 3"
years on that scope and we look forward to hearing from you in 2002 on
Christmas day!

Clay Sherrod

Subject:	ETX Battery Power Failure Problem
Sent:	Monday, December 24, 2001 17:54:46
From: (Cris-Emily Carter)
I have just received a  ETX 125 for Christmas and spent all day studying
the instructions.  Tonight when I performed the setup procedures,
nothing happened.  I have reinserted the batteries and changed
batteries.  Nothing.  Disappointedly, I repacked the box and attempted
to disconnect the controller.  Short of pulling the wires out of either
end,  the cord will not disconnect.  Hopefully, this is not a portent of
things to come.  Shall I just return the whole purchase to the Discovery
Store and hope that the gift giver will get over his disappointment. 
Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks, ec carter
Mike here: When you flip the power switch to ON, does the LED on the ETX base come on? Does the standard handcontroller LED for speed for on? You mentioned that you could not unplug the handcontroller. Do you have it inserted in the correct port and in the correct orientation? Are you depressing the little tab on the jack to release it? Sorry for the questions but this may help narrow down what could be happening.
Subject:	RE: Possible misunderstanding in the FAQ section
Sent:	Monday, December 24, 2001 7:01:04
From: (Frank Welsh)
Once again, I am deeply in debt to you!  I would never have dreamed of
applying that amount of force to a precision optical instrument without
assurance that there would be no breakage.  The rubber jar opener
worked, and now a "feature" of the scope that I would never have
accessed is available to me.

Frank Welsh
St Petersburg, Florida

Subject:	(ETX Finder FOV)
Sent:	Sunday, December 23, 2001 19:10:03
From: (Alex Gibson)
I am the owner of an ETX 90. I would like to know the Field of View for
the 8 x 21 finder on my ETX. I have converted the finder to a Right
Angle using the Apogee RA Finder Conversion Kit. I do not know if this
conversion changes the FOV.

My guess is that the FOV is 5 degrees but would appreciate confirmation
from a knowledgeable ETX 90 owner.

Thanks - Alex Gibson.
Mike here: I've never measured it but it is easy to do. Just point the ETX at an object on the celestial equator, do not engage the RA drive, and time the passage of an object across field of view. Remember that the sky moves 15 degrees in 60 minutes.
Subject:	Possible misunderstanding in the FAQ section
Sent:	Saturday, December 22, 2001 17:06:32
From: (Frank Welsh)
I believe there is a misunderstanding of what the users problem is in
the FAQ

Q. My Declination (altitude) setting circle is off, what do I do?

You replied,  .loosen the knob on the DEC scale fork arm a little bit
and rotate the scale by hand until it reads zero (0) degrees under the
pointer. Hold the scale in position and retighten the knob.

The scale that can be rotated by hand with the knob loosened has no
numbers on it, and rotating it would be rather pointless. The scale that
does have degrees marked on it is on the OTHER side of the fork, and if
there is a way to rotate it, I cannot find it. (Is there a way?)

On my ETX-70AT, the zero-degree mark is off by more than seven degrees,
but I faithfully followed the directions for Home Position from three
separate places in the manual to Level the optical tube by lining up 0
degrees on the Dec setting circle (17, Fig 1) with the pointer (Fig 13).
And then Figure 13 shows a zero-degree mark lined up with the pointer!

It may be true, as the manual says in its IMPORTANT NOTE (Appendix A,
Page 32) that one should not allow undue attention to precise Polar
Alignment of the telescope to interfere with your basic enjoyment of the
instrument, but Meades screwing up this one item where at least minimal
precision is required for Home Position and then providing no means for
correcting the mistake is unforgiveable in a telescope not intended as a

The instructions for Home Position should be amended to tell the user to
IGNORE the degree marks on the Declination setting circle as no attempt
has been made to have zero degrees to have any relationship with whether
the optical tube is level or not.  Instead, get a spirit level to assure
that the Alt and Azimuth axes are perpendicular to each other.

I spent my first week with the ETX-70AT thinking I must be insane, since
I could never find the mentioned star at all near where the scope ended
up pointing during the Easy Alignment, and I KNOW where the stars are in
the sky!  Now that I know that the degree marks on the declination
circle are decorative only, I can set up quickly.  Is this perhaps the
reason for the special prices on the AT-76AT?  Are they ALL out of whack
like mine is?

QUESTION:  Does anybody know how I can correct the out-of-whack circle
so that zero degrees means that the Alt and Azimuth axes are
perpendicular, as they should be?


Frank Welsh
St Petersburg, Florida
Mike here: The knob on the DEC scale arm will loosen. If you have one of the rubber sheets to assist in opening jars or bottles, try that. Or use something else to allow you to get some friction on the knob surface.
Subject:	your new book
Sent:	Saturday, December 22, 2001 11:17:38
From: (Bill Wyatt)
i bought your new book on the etx a coupla months ago from amazon dot
com, but they keep saying its been you know what the
problem is and when ill get it?  i ordered a supercharged etx-125 for
xmas and im hoping the book and the scope come at about the same
time....i love your site..

Mike here: Thanks. Supposedly the publishing date is January 2002. That hasn't changed since I announced the book.
Subject:	report on Meade investor's conference call... 
Sent:	Friday, December 21, 2001 21:00:06
From: (richard seymour)
On Thursday morning 20-dec-2001, Meade held a publicly-accessible
telephone "briefing"  for stock market analysts and brokers. 
It coincided with their releasing their 3rd quarter results.
(visible on Meade's website at:
there's also a link to a webcast of the call).

The main speaker was the company president, John Diebel

On the financial side, they're WAY down from same-period last year.
About 20% less overall sales volume, much lower profit per share.

Meade Instruments Corp. - Irvine, Calif.
   3rd Quar Nov. 30:
                          2001               2000
Sales                  $35,401,000        $42,424,000
Net income               a 365,000        b 1,986,000
Avg shrs (basic)        15,129,000         14,717,000
Avg shrs (diluted)      15,166,000         15,679,000
Shr earns (basic)
  Net income                 a .02              b .13
Shr earns (diluted)
  Net income                 a .02              b .13
a: Includes a pretax noncash Employee Stock Ownersip Program (ESOP)
 charge of $345,000.
 Excluding items, the company earned $592,000, or 4 cents a share. 

b: Includes a pretax noncash ESOP charge of $808,000. Excluding items,
  the company earned $2.7 million, or 17 cents a share. 

Not shown in that snippet is that their cost of sales is way down, too.
A lot of that shrinkage is due to less advertising than 2000.
They also said that they've got their inventory situation in better
shape than last year (but i wonder how that can be, with the LX200gps
sitting around... (see below))

Causing poor sales is the great slowdown in US economy nailing them, 
with the whip-saw effect of telescopes being a "discretionary"
purchase item.. the first sort of frill to -not- buy if you're
feeling uncertain about your financial future.

Then comes the double-whammy problem of the LX200gps and LXD55s.
(a) they stopped production of the old LX200 (<--they didn't -talk-
  about that, but we all know it).  Also orders fell off as people
  waited to buy the new lines. So income dropped.
(b) the dealers ordered LOTS of LX200gps's and LXD55's
(c) "thousands" (<--their word) of LX200gps's await shipment...
(d) being held up while the software is perfected (<--not exactly
   their word, but close).
(e) the "other new lines" (LXD55's) will be shipped after the LX200's
  start rolling out the door. (and it sound like they've got oodles
   of those lying around, too.. but they didn't say a quantity.)
(f) whammy: due to delayed-past-Xmas shipping dates, lots of dealers
   are -canceling- orders.
(g) whammy: the 3rd quarter (Sept/Oct/Nov) is usually their -best-
  quarter, since stores are buying for Xmas.  No new scopes, fewer
  sales to stores. Ouch.
(h) something i'd been unaware of, but a broker asked about: after
   Xmas evidently a -lot- of unsold product gets returned to Meade
   from bulk dealers.  Meade has no idea of what this year will look
   like in that respect.

They -do- expect to be shipping LX200gps's in "4th quarter" (before
 28 Feb 2002).

On the -bright- side, someone asked if the ETX60 was dead. They said
that Costco was buying lots of them, and it wasn't officially dead yet.

Meade normally has a 30 to 60-day backlog of scope orders.

They talked a little about Terabeam (Meade provides 125mm optical 
assemblies for point-to-point networking between buildings in cities).
That's "Free Space Optics"... Meade sees optical networking as a 
potential BIG business, and it -sounded- like they were delving into
the networking side of it themselves (as opposed to simply supplying
telescopes for other folks).  They said that Terabeam was -not- 
currently any significant part of their business.

Meade spends about $2 million per year on reseach and development,
spread across 20 people... 10 for "industrial" products, 10 for
consumer products.

Something else mentioned (at the intro of the call) was that they're
also into Laser Rangefinders... something i've never seen mentioned
elsewhere in my readings.

Meade is also a major binocular manufacturer, but that wasn't discussed
at all during the phone call, other than at the very beginning.
Not mentioned during the call was their recent hire of a VP or something
(my memory fails me) whose background is in that market.

Their microscope business didn't receive -any- mention.

I listened to a taped replay hours after the call... only 3 or 4 
listeners asked questions -during- the call, i wish i'd been online
then to do so. Although i must admit i can't think of a salient 
question to have asked them.

--dick (not a stockholder, merely an Autostar holder)

Subject:	Thanks for helping with my ETX Battery Power Failure Question
Sent:	Thursday, December 20, 2001 17:39:33
Thanks for helping with my ETX 125 Battery Power Failure problem that I
E-mailed you about last week.  The suggestion that Clay Sherrod made
about the external 12V power connector clip sticking is probably the
cause of this problem.  While I wasn't able to fix that problem Clay's
suggestion gave me an idea for a "work around" that has proved to be a
reasonable solution.

Mike Bertin

Subject:	a dumb request...
Sent:	Thursday, December 20, 2001 11:25:11
From: (Stan Glaser)
Hi, Mike --

call it stupid, waste of your time, whatever --

a number of the website's sections are in REVERSE order by date (e.g.
Astrophotography) -- I know others must have the same eerie feeling that
they've "read this before, didn't I?" when going to these sections and
then doing a double take on the posted date, and realizing that the
UPDATE is actually at the END of the list and NOT at the TOP.

Any chance of flipping those sections "upside-down" or should I say
LIFO? It would be nice to know that EVERY section's posts are newest to
oldest as we scroll down...(or at least consistent one way or the other)


if you have the time, or the inclination   :-)

Stan Glaser
Mike here: Some pages (like the Feedback pages) are meant to be read in reverse order, that is, most recent at the top (for convenience). Other pages, like the astro tips page, are meant to be read (by someone who hasn't seen that page before) from top to bottom. I thought about doing it the other way on those types of pages but thought it would be confusing for new site visitors to jump in. Unfortunately, I probably haven't been as consistent as I should be on all the pages. But in general, reverse chronological order (new at the top) when new material is what is important, whereas chronological order (new at the bottom) when there is a flow of information. Hope this helps.
Subject:	Re: Planetary Viewing
Sent:	Thursday, December 20, 2001 8:04:18
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hi Ron -
Glad you are learning the ETX the "hard way" makes for better

I can think of a couple of things that you probably need to do/be aware
of when observing the planets:

1)  SEEING CONDITIONS - This is the worst time of year to be observing
planets, when the sun goes down and the differential cooling allows
rapid heat loss from the earth....this results in very bad seeing for
you until about midnight;

2)  LOW ALTITUDE OF JUPITER - You indicated or implied that you were
viewing Jupiter when it first comes up in the east...that is way too
low, for the reason stated above; the planets will ALWAYS look washed
out until they get about 45-60 degrees above any horizon; about midnight
for Jupiter right now is ideal; Saturn hits the zenith about two hours

3)  MAGNIFICATION - Yes, you do indeed need more that 13mm (26mm +
Barlow) to achieve good planetary images; for the ETX 90, I would
suggest as a minimum (with the criteria #1 and 2 above) the 9.7mm
eyepiece to begin seeing detail on the rings of Saturn and clouds of

Just be patient and allow for good sky cooling will be
rewarded in the end!
May the brightest stars shine for the pathways of your discoveries in
coming years, and may the tails of comets dust your footprints to remind
you of origins long ago.....

P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> I've noticed several pictures of Jupiter and Saturn posted on Mike Weasner's
> site.  Do these two planets look that "detailed" when viewed through an
> ETX-90EC, or only via long exposure pictures?  Can you tell me which
> eyepiece(s) is best to view these planets?
> Here's the reason I'm asking.  I recently purchased an ETX-90EC.  It came
> with a Super Plossel 26mm eyepiece and I purchase a 2x Barlow.  I haven't
> connected my Autostar devices yet because I want to try to find some things
> on my own first.  I think I saw Jupiter last night rising in the East.
> However, the best image I could muster was a white ball, and a very small
> one at that.  It definitely wasn't a star, but it sure was small and didn't
> have the various lines going through it like you see in pictures.  Using
> different colored filters just made the little ball different colors.  It
> was the brightest object in the sky that didn't look like a twinkling star.
> I'm pretty sure it was Jupiter.
> Am I doing something wrong?  Do I have the correct set of eyepieces, etc? I
> know things won't look as good as the photographs, but I was hoping to be
> able to see things a little larger and with some detail, like people
> describe on Mike's site.
> Any information would be greatly appreciated.
> Thanks,
> Ron

Subject:	LensPen & Autostar 2.2E
Sent:	Thursday, December 20, 2001 7:39:45
From: (Kausik Chaudhuri)
I saw your comments about the LensPen in your website. My 3 week old
ETX-90EC got a small fingerprint in the corrector lens. Also in my 2nd
day of observing, the lens was covered with dew. After the dew dried, it
left some marks on the lens. How do this fingerprint and the watermarks
can affect the optics of this scope. Do you think I can use the LensPen
to clean them up?

One moe questions, my Autostar got version 2.2E. Is there any discussion
in your website about this version? How does it work in terms of
accuracy and stability?

I appreciate all your help you are providing through the Mighty ETX web
site to the newcomers like me. I learned a lot from your site.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Kausik Chaudhuri
Mike here: Some people like the LensPen and some don't. But used with care it will clean you corrector lens. Whether it needs cleaning is another matter. It really takes a lot of dirt or smudges to have a noticeable effect. As to the Autostar, check the full version until the Utilities-->Statistics menu. It will be something like 2.2Eg or 2.2Eh. If you can purchase or make the cable you probably want to upgrade to the current version of 2.2Et if not already there. You can find some discussion of older versions on the Autostar Feedback pages in the Archive.
Subject:	re:  Broken azimuth lock lever
Sent:	Wednesday, December 19, 2001 21:30:49
From: (richard seymour)
My suggestion would be to call Meade's 800-626-3233 customer support
number... chat pleasantly and they might even send you one!


Subject:	no more a member of the ETX WebRing??
Sent:	Wednesday, December 19, 2001 21:27:29
From: (richard seymour)
Que pasa?

Due to a posting on your site,. i dropped over to Blessing's site,
realized that i hadn't looked at the list ot ETX WebRing sites recently,
clicked there, and there were only -3- sites! (yours not included)

So i hit your main page, and the "webring" box is gone.

Sic transit communities?

just curious
Mike here: The WebRing was taken over by new management. I tried to get into it to adjust my listing but could not. I sent email to the new management but was ignored. So I dropped it.
Subject:	Question re: Moon Viewing on ETX-60
Sent:	Wednesday, December 19, 2001 16:20:04
From: (Chris Benham)
I've been wanting to get into more depth with my viewings of the moon,
but I find that my eyes start to hurt pretty quickly due to the
brightness of the moon in it's fuller stages.  Is there a particular
filter I should look at to help bring the harsh brightness down while
examining the lunar surface?

Mike here: See the Accessory Reviews - Filters page for a Moon Filter.
Subject:	ETX-90EC Eyepieces
Sent:	Tuesday, December 18, 2001 21:01:34
From: (Ron Duca)

I just read your June 21, 2001 observation of Mars, which you posted on
Mike Weaser's ETX site.

I purchased an ETX-90EC yesterday and set it up this evening.  Using the
supplied SP 26mm eyepiece, I was a bit disappointed at what I saw.  My
observations, of various stars and constellations, didn't seem to be
much better that what I saw with my 7x50 binoculars.  Actually, the ETX
displayed things clearer, but not really much "closer" and larger.  I
was able to see some of the larger craters on the moon fairly clearly
though.  Also, the width of my viewing area was not as large as I had
expected.  I haven't hooked up my Autostar yet, so it was quite fun
finding some of the constellations.

I noticed that you use several different eyepieces.  Do you think I
would really be able to zoom in on some the objects with a more powerful
eyepiece or two?  I can't imagine being able to see some of the planets,
as many observers have described, with the SP 26mm that I'm using.

I want a fairly wide view and to be able to zoom in and see craters,
rings, ice caps, etc.  Can you recommend a few sizes and types of
eyepieces I should get?  Also, if I were to get just one eyepiece, for
now, which one should I get?

Thanks so much for your assistance and advice.

Ron Duca
Broken Arrow, OK
Mike here: Keep in mind that telescopes (at least ones you and I can afford) will NOT magnify the stars. But you should get a better view of the planets with the 26mm than you do with 7x50 binoculars.
Subject:	Dr. Clay's Supercharge Service
Sent:	Tuesday, December 18, 2001 20:05:38
From: (Rosenthal, Dave)
My ETX-90EC is not even 1 year old.  I thought it was doung OK except
for the fact that I could not get any GoTos or tracking to work
correctly.  I found out about the supercharge service on your sitee and
contacted Dr. Clay Sherrod.  What a nice man.  He took my scope right
away and here is what he found (en exerpt from an email describing his
initial findings about my scope)

Frankly I don't know how you have been using it mechanically!  The DEC
drive is in bad shape (nothing I can't take care of) and you were about
to burn out the motor OR/and strip the nylon reducer gears; your problem
was two-fold:
1) the undriven setting circle side has STUCK against the fork arm where
the OTA swing arm rock in the fork was nearly frozen solid and
that motor was pulling double-duty to move the was mis-made
at Meade (no surprise there).  I have already taken it apart and will
re-mill the trunion to fit properly so that there will be no resistance
at all.
2) On the other side, the worm gear bracket was so loose that it
periodically pulls the drive in and binds it as well, and then
alternatively moves it away and causes much slop!

The RA clutch as you are well aware I am sure has bottomed out....I will
replace the entire clutch in there and reset everything so that NO
overclamping is required.

Optically I have only done a quick laser shot through the OTA and all
appears VERY might be a victim of bad seeing and perhaps
using high powers on such nights....smaller scopes can use only so much
power if the seeing is not just perfect (well, that goes for ALL

Everything else will be great....I am going to rebuild the focus
mechanism to smooth that out.

This will turn into and absolutely wonderful scope for you!  Nothing
here that the old Supercharge can't bring the patient back to life....

He repaired all of these problems at no extra charge, plus cleaned all
of my Plossls and updated my Autostar.  My scope is in transit now and
will let you know how it is.  This goes to show that even if you think
your scope is fine, Dr. Clay can make it better.  He sais it is perfect
now.  Optically it always was, but mechanicaly it was a mess.  Thanks
Dr.Clay, I can't wait to use my new & improved "Mighty ETX !!!"

David Rosenthal []

Subject:	Re: ETX 125EC repair inquiry
Sent:	Tuesday, December 18, 2001 15:55:57
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hi Keen...
My first reaction is "OUCH!"

That is a pretty serious injury.  The problem you have is that when ANY
one of the three (primary, secondary or corrector lens) is damaged or
replaced, you must replace all three in a Maksutov telescope since they
are all made as a matching set....just a new primary will not help you.

Here is what I would suggest....if the largest chip is only 1/2" (I
know, that is STILL large) you can still use the scope fine;  just
unscrew the entire tube from the back end (the black rear cell is
attached to the fork arms and will remain if you firmly grasp the tube
and unscrew it carefully). Carefully slide off the tube making sure you
do not bump the long baffle tube and/or mirror.

Now once off, merely PAINT the chips FLAT BLACK with a model airplane
paintbrush very carefully.....just the broken/chipped part.  This will
allow reflection of light ONLY from the proper part of the mirror that
is not damaged and your light loss will be absolutely minimum.

Meade WILL replace all the optics for you at one set price, but I
believe it is fairly costly.  So try this quick fix first....or you can
send in here and I will get it running for is very likely your
collimation is severely off as well if the impact was hard enough to
damage the primary.

I am truly sorry about the damage.....scopes tend to get away from us in
the dark of night.  Let me know if I can help.

Clay Sherrod
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> Dear Mr. Sherrod,
>    I found your service on the Mighty ETX website.
>    I have a Meade ETX-125EC that was dropped. The only damage appears
> to be the primary mirror, which sustained 1/4"-1/2" chips all around
> the central hole.
> Is this repairable? Is a new primary mirror even available? At what
> cost?
> Thank you for your time,
> Keen

Subject:	Re: new purcchase
Sent:	Tuesday, December 18, 2001 7:12:02
From: (Lisa Dressig)
Thanks so much for the response.  I wasn't sure how much info. I sent. 
It is a 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Multipurpose spotting scope and
telescope.  Its focal length is 1200 mm, objective diameter is 90 mm, 26
mm Super Plossl eyepiece is a 1.25" standard format, a 8 x 21 finder
scope, 45 degree erecting diagonal prism with a mount and tripod.  It
comes with a 16 mm eyepiece and Galileo thermometer bonus.  I just
wondered if I would have been better off with a MEAD, because it's a
well known name.     Thanks again for your help.
Mike here: The specs sound similar but slightly different from the Meade ETX-90EC (or -90RA) model. Whether the optics will leave up to what the ETX-90 can do remains to be seen (by you).
Subject:	Meade Focuser Installation
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 21:39:26
From: (George S. Pappayliou)
Great website. Can't wait for your book which is currently backordered
at Amazon---they say it'll ship in January.

Need your help. Previously I saw on your site cautionary instructions
for installing the Meade1244 focuser. In going back using the "search"
feature I haven't been able to find it again. Any thoughts?

Thanks, George Pappayliou
Mike here: Hard to say which item you saw. But some cautions: read the documentation to be certain you plug it into the proper port. Also, tilt the OTA upwards about 45 degrees to avoid having the focus shaft slip inside the tube when you remove the focus knob.
Subject:	Profound experience with my ETX-90EC
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 18:02:09
From: (Doug Drossman)
Ok, now I know for most of you what Im about to say is a bit pass, but
say it I must. I have had my first successful sighting with my ETX-90EC.
Both Jupiter and Saturn are mine! Now this might not seem to be
impressive but consider this. I live in the heart of New York City. I
had a 150w light sitting in my face. Also I was observing from my
terrace on the first floor between two buildings with about a 40 degree
angle view of the sky. I dont have a tripod and my autostar is
unaligned. Bands of light and dark clearly seen in Jupiter and rings of
Saturn clearly shown. No Cassini division but I was only using an 18mm
WA with a 2x Barlow. Well let me just say that this was quite a moving
experience. Its hard to pinpoint my feelings but I am unexpectedly awed.
I am immediately going to purchase a tripod as well as an auto focuser.
Almost impossible to correctly focus manually without a tripod. Also I
want a smaller eyepiece, possibly a 6.4mm. Also would it be possible to
use a 3x Barlow? What is the maximum power/lens combination for this
scope realistically? Thanks for the terrific site and I look forward to
letting you know about my future experiences. I cant wait for the full

Doug D.

P.S. Just wondering why the spotting scope included is not a right-angle
type? The straight type is just about useless. You would laugh if you
saw the gymnastics I was doing just to spot those giants. Lol
Mike here: See the FAQ for info on max magnification. And you could use a 3X Barlow Lens but keep in mind that max magnification. As to the Finderscope, few designs fit all situations.
Subject:	Broken azimuth lock lever
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 15:32:29
From: (john f. powell)
I've had my ETX 90 for one year now and I've found it to be a marvelous
vehicle to become hooked on astronomy. It took me about three months to
become comfortable with using it effectively. Your site was, and still
is, a great help in my learning process. I recently purchased the 7" Mak
LX200, but plan to keep my ETX because I enjoy it so, it's
a lot more portable than its big brother. Last night, while putting the
ETX in the home position, the azimuth locking lever broke.I was
surprised to find that it was plastic. I was also surprised that it
lasted as long as it did. I want to replace it (rather than using a 1/2
inch wrench which seems to work).....but I'd like the replacement to be
metal. I've checked most of the Meade authorized dealer's sites but they
apparently don't list or sell a replacement. Any suggestions, or should
I just call Meade. Thanks...and keep up the fine work....John F. Powell
Mike here: There are a couple of replacement techniques mentioned on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	etx questions and kudos-
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 11:32:26
From: (Tim O'Meara)
first of all...
i can't believe the amount of truly useful info you have here. and i
want to say that as a newbie i really appreciate the work you've done
i'm about to buy one of these scopes (i think).
i like the etx-125ec for it's light gathering ability, but i'v seen many
complaints about it's mechanical design and some negative comments about
it's optics too...mostly about the central obstruction and a lack of
contrast. on the other hand, everything (almost) i've read about the
etx-90ec has been very positive.
question 1:
some say that the etx-105 is a 'fixed' version of the 125 with a smaller
OTA. is there any significant improvement in the 105's mechanics?
has the etx-125 been re-designed to address the mechanical issues?
is the etx-125 really worth the cost difference?
Mike here: Yes, the mechanicals have been improved in the ETX-105EC and supposedly in newer -125 telescopes as well. The -105 makes a nice compromise between the nice portability of the -90 and the aperture of the -125. Whether the extra cost for the larger aperture of the -125 is worth it to you, only you can answer.
Subject:	Eyepiece Question
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 9:29:27
Thank You for such a wondeful site. I have an ETX-90 RA and am looking
into a 32mm Plossil, but have read about "vignetting" (sp) above 26mm. I
am a novice and do not know what this means. Are there problems with
using larger than 26mm EP's? Also can a 32mm be used with a Shutan or
Apoggee wide field adapter? I think that would yield a 2.2 degree FOV. I
have seen references to both and am wondering is one better than the

Thank You and Happy Holidays
Randy Rourke
Mike here: Vignetting refers to the image not filling up the entire field. You see this as dark areas along the edge of photos or when looking through an eyepiece. It may or may not be distracting to you. I use the Scopetronix 40mm eyepiece with the ETX-90RA, both with and without the Shutan Wide Field Adapter. Views deteriorate some with the WFA but they still have their purpose.
Subject:	ETX Collimation
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 8:51:50
From: (Jon)
I need just a bit of advice.  I have read your website on ETX
collimation and I am quite certain the ETX-90RA I just received is a
ways out of collimation.  I bought it new from Apogee Inc.

Looking at a bright star, or even stars as faint as the trapezium, the
"best focus" at 100X with seems to yield two dots rather than one.  A
closer inspection of a magnitude 2 star light Bellatrix gives star image
that rather than being concentric about the center, has some very bright
partial rings on the right side and none on the left.  I have let the
scope cool for about an hour prior to this, probably the temperture drop
between inside and outside is about 30 degrees F.

After reading the various comments on your website, I think my best bet
is to return it to Meade for collimation.  I live in San Diego so this
is not a big deal.

I would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Also, I have been using it on a tripod but last night I decided to give
the table top legs a try.  I was quite surprised how nicely those
worked.  I had always thought they were a joke but they actually provide
a nice seated position.

Thanks for your efforts and your great website.

jon Isaacs
Mike here: If you are seeing double images after a good cool down, I suspect something is out of alignment. Take it to Meade, along with your sales receipt.


I do like the site.  Seems like a great thing for ETX owners.  I am
basically a DOB guy who has gotten snagged into the ETX thing buy
closeout pricing.  I have a ETX-70EC that I got new from OPT for $170
and this one from Apogee...

I wanted to get an RA finder for the thing and fortunately a local
fellow just advertized some on Astromart.  I hope to buy one and besides
I will take my scope out so that he can take a look-see and tell me what
he thinks of the optics, I know he had has several ETX-90's over the

There is no getting around an experienced eye on these things.

Last night one of the moons transisted jupiter and I was able to see the
Shadow clearly with the ETX, which pleased me, I have not been able to
do that with other small scopes I have.


jon isaacs

Subject:	Oh no, I did this once before, Oh no
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 7:18:27
From: (Tom Kulaga)
I read your message on Weasner's in the General Feedback page.

Too bad.  I did the same with a one-week old ETX-60!  I returned it to
Meade the last week of November, and they said that I should have it
within a month.   :-(

When I turned on the power switch after connecting the external battery
(with reversed polarity), wisps of smoke came from the scope.  I
immediately turned it off, but, alas, too late.  The smell wasn't too
bad, it disappeared after a few hours.  After fixing the polarity
problem, the 494 hand unit would boot, but the scope was dead.

I called Meade and they told me that they have a flat rate fee to repair
the ETX-60: $75.  This price included return shipping, but I had to pay
to get it to them.  They told me that their repair turn-around time was
currently 2 to 3 weeks.

In hindsight, rather than paying to ship the scope back and having it
repaired, I would have been better off buying another ETX-60 from Costco
for $128.  Then I would have had an OTA and a working scope.  Too late
now, for me.  With an ETX-125, I'm sure it would be cheaper to fix than


PS:  To make matters worse, I'm an electrical engineer!

Subject:	Re: 15V vs. 12V
Sent:	Monday, December 17, 2001 5:43:04
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hi Andy - that is super. Sounds like you have the scope mastered and are
ready for some wonderful wintertime sky viewing!  They do, indeed, work
wonderfully when set up properly and operating at their many
times, a user will become frustrated with the scope when in fact the
problem is "user error!"

Thanks again and enjoy!

P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> Thanks for the very informative reply.  I really
> appreciate all your help, both to me directly and by
> virtue of all your posts on the website.  The
> information provided by you and Mike has really
> allowed me to better understand, fine tune, and
> operate my 125.  It never amazes me that with a
> thorough set up (the magic key) it actually goes to
> where it's supposed to, puts the object in the finder
> and tracks objects indefinitely.  It really works and
> works well!  Slowly I have been inching myself up to
> the level of this cool piece of machinery.  Thanks for
> the help along the way.
> Andy

Subject:	Tripod #183 v. #184
Sent:	Sunday, December 16, 2001 22:09:42
From: (Don Wagda)
Great site.  Can't wait to get your book.

Anyway, I was wondering if you have an opinion on the Meade #183 tripod
versus the #184.  Both are in the marketplace now, and the bubble
leveler attracts me to the #183, but I wonder if there is a big
stability improvement with the #184.

Can you advise?

Don Wagda
Mike here: No opinion on the (I presume you mean) #884; I only have the #883. But its design should make it steadier in situations where the #883 was prone to some vibrations.
Subject:	Re: Thanks
Sent:	Sunday, December 16, 2001 16:25:19
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Scott
Thank you so much....your message makes all of this worthwhile and I
truly appreciate your taking the time to do so!

You are absolutely correct...."if it ain't broke, don't FIX it!"  If
your scope is making you happy, then you are surely advised to keep on
doing what you are doing full speed ahead.

I hope that you will continue to read Mike Weasner's encyclopedic site
for all the tips you care to know....I will be on there as long as God
is willing!

Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas to you and your family....may be
brightest stars fill your future skies.

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> This is just a note to thank you for all your posts at Mike Weasner's
> website.   I particularly appreciate your warnings about things, such as
> your home collimation warnings and your warnings about the electric
> focuser installation.  These really are a great public service.  Someday
> perhaps I'll be able to afford your supercharging my etx90 scope, but as
> you say in your collimation warning -- the damn thing is so good even
> with it's motor slop and all, I'm not sure I could part with it even
> that long   So you have my appreciation.  You make this hobby all the
> more fun.
> Scott
And this from Scott:
I should have also sent you a huge thanks for even having a site that
people like Clay could post on.  It's really a great achievement.  I
hope someday you'll be rewarded by more than the Arkansas society --
it's a service to amateurs everywhere.  My very best,


Subject:	Your Website
Sent:	Sunday, December 16, 2001 13:26:11
From: (Robert Bolen)
Hello, I found your website most interesting.  I saw one picture which
really peeked my curiousity.  Believe it or not, it wasn't the pics
taken thru the telescope but of the ground setup you have.  I live in an
area where street lights abound so I'm always looking for areas away
from my house.  I'd like to observe from my backyard but I don't really
want to build a structure for my telescope.  I saw the 'tent' type setup
you have. Did you make it or where can I purchase one of those??

I'd appreciate your assistance, thank you.

Bob Bolen
Mike here: That was the "TeleDome Portable Observatory" and is discussed in more detail on the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page. It is one of several types that can be purchased (see the ads in Sky and Telescope, or Astronomy magazine).
Subject:	Sun Shield
Sent:	Sunday, December 16, 2001 8:19:44
From: (Brian Gaines)
If I was to buy a sun shield would I be able to look the through the eye
Mike here: If you are referring to a quality solar filter from a reputable source that covers the aperture end of the telescope, yes you can view the Sun safely. Do NOT use a solar filter that attaches to the eyepiece. Be certain you also cover any finderscope to prevent accidental viewing or damage. See the Accessory Reviews - Filters page for more on Solar Filters.
Subject:	Oh no, I did this once before, Oh no
Sent:	Saturday, December 15, 2001 13:17:12
This is my first contact. I reversed polarity on my ETX125 with an
external 12V battery AND I had the Autostar connected. Did I also fry
the Autostar and how much is this going to cost me beyond my damaged
pride. (I did this once before on an R/C transmitter) Oh the humanity.

Also I had a Kendrick Dew removal system hooked up and all it did was
blow a fuse! Can the ETX be repaired with this kind of failsafe. Why
didn't Meade take fools like me into consideration when designing the
power circuit. Thanks
Mike here: You may have damaged more than just the Autostar. Does the standard handcontroller still work? If not, you have likely fried the circuit board. If it does, then only the Autostar is fried and you could possibly found a replacement on eBay.
Subject:	ETX90 Question
Sent:	Saturday, December 15, 2001 12:29:28
From: (Michael Raggo)
I'm a rookie just starting out. I recently purchased an ETX90 new and
I'm having major difficulties removing the large lense cover at the end
of the telescope. I attempted to remove it by popping it off, 1st using
my hands, then trying to pry it off with a flathead screwdriver. They I
tried unscrewing it and the larger portion unscrewed from the large
cylindrical tube. Obviously, the plastic lense cover should come off,
maybe like a 35mm camera. But no luck. Any ideas or tips?


- Mike
Mike here: It should unscrew. If it was too tightly screwed on (or cross-threaded) you will have to hold the lens holder inplace as you loosen the cap.
Subject:	Cold weather operation
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 22:17:37
From: (Mike Francis)
Thanks for listening...I thought I read somewhere to NOT use my GOTO
Autostar function in the dead of winter (Jan.-Feb) up here in Michigan.
Is this because of the grease on the gears freezing up and causing them
to drag? Or was I just imagining this?
 Thanks - Great site   Mike Francis
Mike here: Certainly the grease can get stiffer and could cause problems (just like with cars). But the Autostar can work if you keep it warm. As its temperature drops down into the 30s and 20s, the screen will dim out. The Autostar still works; you just can't read the display.
Subject:	Eyepiece cover for ETX-125EC
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 14:30:44
From: (Scott Rosenberg)
I want to do solar observing with my ETX-125.  I see many solutions for
covering the 8x21mm finderscope of the ETX-90 (pill bottle caps, 35mm
film canisters, etc.), yet see no suggestions for a snug fitting cover
for the 8x25mm RA finder of the ETX-125.  Can you make any suggestions
or point me in the right direction?  Thanks.

Mike here: I made one out of cardboard and black tape. Pretty simple to do. Just a strip of cardboard from a pad of paper rolled into a tube that snugly fits the outside diameter of the finderscope aperture end. Then a cardboard "cap" taped onto the end. All covered in black tape and it looks good and works well.
Subject:	ext 90 and autostar controller
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 13:36:54
From: (Doden, Linnea)
hello Meade gave me you name as an expert.

We have the 90 and the autostar controller so far all we been able to do
is "manually look at the moon" I don't think meade give enough info on
how to set up and use. They said we should call beck during the day
(both my husband and I work) for assistance.

Can you advise either some personal instructions or websites or software
on how to set this thing up to use?

I'd greatly appreciate it.


my E-mail at home is

you could send the message there
Mike here: There are Tutorials and Autostar alignment information on my ETX Site. Check them out.
Subject:	Fw: ETX - Fork misalignment and OTA alignment
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 12:48:44
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To: Tanvir
> That may be your only option....have you pre-determined WHICH direction will
> need to be modified?  That would be the first thing you should be
> doubly-sure of!
> One degree is, indeed, very excessive!  Best of luck to you!
> P. Clay Sherrod -
> Arkansas Sky Observatory
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Tanvir
> > Clay:
> >
> > Thank you for the response.  The error was about 1 degree not 1 mimute as
> I
> > described or around 60 minutes.  In haste I forgot that I was suppose to say
> > 1o :-).  I can live with 1' but a degree of error is so great that it put
> > the star out of the field of a 26mm eye piece.
> >
> > What you think aout shaving the fork arm?
> >
> > >From: "Clay Sherrod"
> > >Hello Tanvir and thanks for the nice comments; I am glad that you are
> > >finding Mike Weasner's site beneficial.....actually I find it
> > >indispensable!
> > >
> > >Unfortunately, there is not a lot that you can do to realign the OTA within
> > >the ETX fork arms....there is a minor bit of space where you can loosen the
> > >four screws (do not take all the way out) and keep the OTA tight enough to
> > >stay in position unless moving to your pushes.  Slowly, you might be able
> > >to take out that amount of offset, since it is relatively minor.  I have seen
> > >many with considerably more offset than you are describing, but you are
> > >right that it is very difficult to attain good alignment with the offset.
> > >
> > >I would NOT recommend using bushings or spaces that would take the OTA
> > >support arm away from the tube, thereby introducing rocking in the
> > >declination axis.
> > >
> > >Good luck!
> > >
> > >P. Clay Sherrod -
> > >Arkansas Sky Observatory
> > >
> > >
> > >----- Original Message -----
> > > > Hi Clay:
> > > >
> > > > I have read your tips and benifited greatly at Weasner Mighty ETX site.
> > > > I have come accross a problem that I have not seen mentioned but I am sure
> > > > is has plagued other people besides me.
> > > >
> > > > I am refering to the problem where the OTA in the fork is not lined up with
> > > > the RA or Line of Site (LOS) of drive and it is either toward left or right
> > > > looking from behind.  The reasons can be many including imprecise drilling
> > > > of holes in forks, twisted forks, and uneven pressures of mounting arms on
> > > > the OTA.  More likely and hopefully eneven pressure of mounting arms.
> > > > On my new ETX 90 RA, my estimate from finder scope is that the OTA is around 1'
> > > > toward left from the center so the total error in diameter is about 2'.
> > > > When I center the Polars in the scope, and give scope 180 degree rotation,
> > > > there is virtually no moven in Y Axis but the image is shifted toward right
> > > > about a degree (mirror reversed, estimate via field of you have pointed out
> > > > for right angle adapter).  When I press with and on the finder (left hand)
> > > > side of the OTA, the image gets into the center again.  I think this is way
> > > > too much error for precise polar alignment and tracking of the objects.
> > > >
> > > > Instead of baning my head and try to come out with the solution I was hoping
> > > > that you have already encountered it and that can give me some head start.
> > > > My own possible solution include shaving some plastic from the the arms on
> > > > the right hand arm or may be stuffing something on the left hand side but
> > > > that will make the pressure equal and both side and nothing I think will be
> > > > accomplished.
> > > >
> > > > Thank you for reading my note and hope to hear from you soon.
> > > >
> > > > Tanvir
And more on this:
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hello Tanvir - yes the old inner tube is a wonderful fix for that
problem and I had overlooked that possibility!  I am glad that you did
not have to make any modifications to the OTA support arm.

Regarding the "OTA alignment error" are you speaking about periodic
error or drift error rate?  Actually if you are mounted in polar and can
achieve good polar alignment via Clay's Kochab Clock, you SHOULD be able
to achieve an error of less than 40" arc declination drift per hour of
tracking;  my permanent pier for the ETX 125 allows less than that. 
Declination drift can theoretically be totally eliminated with "perfect"
polar alignment, but don't expect THAT good from any scope!

Best of luck....glad you are up and running again! Sometimes the
quickest, least expensive and less intrusive of all methods is the best!

P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> Hi Clay:
> While searching through your posts, I came accros one of your suggestion to
> beef up the forks and eliminate play by using inner tube patch from Walmart
> on the fork arms.  I picked it up last night and instead of putting it on
> both sides, I only placed it on the side opposite to the fork I was planning
> to shave.  Viola.  The error is reduced from over a degree from center to
> about 15' from center.  This error is now also 180 degree opposite to the
> last one which mean that the rubber patch is little too thick.  For the time
> being, I think I am going to live with it until I can think of something
> different.  With this error I should be able to keep the jupiter in FOV of
> 9mm Plossl for about over an hour provided the instrument is carefully polar
> aligned via "Kochab Clock" method.
> From your experience, can you guess what is a typical average OTA alignment
> error of ETX series of instruments?
> Thank you for your help.
> Tanvir

Subject:	new purcchase
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 9:00:21
From: (Lisa Dressig)
I just ordered a telescope from Opticmall online.  It is a 90mm
Maksutov-Cassegrain multipurpose spotting scope and telescope.  It is
for my husband who enjoys astronomy on the novice level.  My question
is, did I get a decent scope??  I was taken my the description, it
sounded right to me and what he would probably use it for. I don't know
too much about them.  It was $289.oo.  If this isn't a good scope or you
might suggest another, please let me know ASAP, so I can reorder for

Thanks so much.

Mike here: Hard to say. Any telescope (well, almost "any") can make a great (or at least "usable") instrument to make things appear closer than they are. Of course, there are limitations in this and certainly cost vs design plays a factor. Cheap "department store" telescopes that advertise 800X are usually inferior and will not achieve the results they claim. So, whether the telescope you have purchased will meet the user's expectations or not I can't say. And from your limited description I can't say more about the one you have purchased. Certainly a telescope like the ETX-90 (which is a 90mm telescope with a focal length of 1250mm) can allow you to see a lot but I don't want to compare the one you have purchased to an ETX-90 without knowing more details.
Subject:	15V vs. 12V
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 5:27:37
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Mike is absolutely correct on this, particularly the 400mA.  Although it
can operate at that level, you really should have about 500mA minimum
for full operation.  I would also stay clear of any output actually
RATED at 15V.....the reason for this is simple:

Meade's 541 adapter is "rated" at 12V but actually puts out consistently
in the 15.2V range which is wonderful for operating the ETX scopes. 
However, if it were "rated" at 15V, then perhaps it may be putting out
more like "16.3" or more which is way too high for both the Autostar and
the ETX internal circuitry.

If you test it with a good volt meter and get a reading between 11.8 and
15.5V, then you are okay, provided that your plug going into the scope
base is 5.5mm o.d. and 2.5mm i.d.

P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Your loose meniscus cell
Sent:	Friday, December 14, 2001 5:21:17
From: (Clay Sherrod)
I noticed your post on Mike Weasner's site and would like to caution ALL
ETX users to never apply any adhesive to the tube components of the
telescope; the meniscus cell (not the lens itself) was loose in this
case and merely should be retightened.  I strongly recommend avoiding
any type of glue being applied onto or near any of the optical
components or their mountings.

If the need arises to remove that cell (to clean the inside of the lens
for example, a common requirement) you will be unable to do so without
forcing it, which means loss of collimation.

Normally the lens cell becomes loose simply because most everyone has a
tendency to OVERTIGHTEN the metal cover which is not necessary;  I often
have to use a rubber "jar lid remover" to break the tension on scopes
that come in here for Supercharge.  Just get the lid finger
tight....that is all that is needed.

Regarding collimation of your Maksutov:  DON'T.  As Mike cautioned, you
must have an optical bench to adequately align the three major parts of
a Mak, no matter how much experience you may have with other telescopes
of other cannot star-collimate a Maksutov mounted in the

P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	viewing latitudes and confusion
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2001 22:12:23
From: (richard seymour)
I saw your two messages on Mike's site, and see there's still
some confusion...

You said:
> Since I live at approx. 38deg North Lat., I have from +90 to -38 
> to view (assuming clear horizons again).

Nope... from +38 you can see (assuming perfect horizons)
 to -52 degrees!   (subtract your latitude from 90, flip the sign).

Another way to look at it is: you can see to within your 
latitude from the opposite pole.  (-90 less 38 degrees = -52)

have fun

Subject:	finder adapt
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2001 20:47:25
hi my name is jose saavedra i am the owner of new etx 105 i explain  the
finde modification i purchase the takahashi 5x25 finderscope .this
finder works fantastisc and very well field of view , i calling this
invention "takameade"this finder is easy to insert ,no need modify the
original bracket of the etx ,i recomend this finder the performance is
great ,thanks for you atention ,and sorry for my bad type english  have
four flat tires happy holydays att jose saavedra

Subject:	Manuals for Meade TeleStar manuals
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2001 19:18:37
From: (Rex Mahel)
I recently found a Meade TeleStar at a flea market, but it had no
manuals or software.  Where can I get a set?


Mike here: There are some manuals mentioned on the Sites listed on the FAQ. You could also call Meade; I'm sure they would send you one (if available).
Subject:	can you explain........
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2001 14:52:04
From: (david skinner)
is it possible for you to explain to me how a large f number
(f22)creates a great depth of field
yours sincerely john skinner (photgraphy student) 
Mike here: I could but in the interest of teaching people to be somewhat self-sufficient, I did a Sherlock search of the web for "depth of field" and found this:
Keep in mind that searching the web can provide answers to most questions.
Subject:	Telescope recommendation please
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2001 11:10:04
I found your website a wonderful repository of information; however, I
do not have time to read through all of it to make my decision.  I am
looking to purchase my husband a telescope.  I would like to get one
that is good for astronomy and terrestrial viewing.  I know little about
them, but I have been drawn to the Meade products and so far I have been
leaning towards the ETX models, but I am not sure.  I would really
appreciate a recommendation; perhaps your top three choices and why.  I
would like to spend no more than $1000 for the base unit, but would like
to purchase some accessories as well.  I have read so many conflicting
reviews of the various ETX models.  I was looking at the ETX90EC and
125EC, but now I am so confused, I'm not sure which one to go with.

My husband is a novice, but I know that he would want to take advantage
of the computer aspect and hooking up his cameras.  He is a photography
buff, and this is just the next step for him.

I'd appreciate any assistance you could offer.

Mike here: Buying a telescope for someone is somewhat dangerous so doing some research first can save some embarrassment. If the telescope doesn't live up to the user's expectations, then they will be disappointed and the telescope will end up unused. So, you need to determine the expectations as well as the intended usage. For example, if he wants to do deep sky observing (and/or deep sky astrophotography) and expects lots of details, the ETX line will disappoint him (not enough aperture and not designed for long duration astrophotography). The same can be said for observing planetary details. But if he wants (or will be happy with) less dramatic (but still exciting) views, then the ETX (or DS) models make great choices. You also need to decide upon portability (if that is a factor). Larger telescopes are obviously less mobile. I can't speak directly about the DS line (so won't) but I like the ETX-90 for its size and performance in that size factor. I like the ETX-125EC for its aperture vs the -90. A good compromise between the two is the ETX-105EC.
Subject:	Weasner Missing In England
Sent:	Thursday, December 13, 2001 4:20:38
I pre-ordered your book months ago (OK. October 1) from Amazon UK, and
it was due out Nov.19. However, they say publishing has been delayed,
and I couldn't get any sense out of the local publishers. So, I thought
I might as well go to the horse, as it were.

Any idea when it will arrive in Dear Old Blighty ? I'm looking forward
to it.

Keep up the good stuff, 

Dan Johnson
Mike here: I think the real publication date is January 2002. Don't know specific dates for individual countries. Sorry.
Subject:	Here's to New Experiences
Sent:	Tuesday, December 11, 2001 18:16:14
From: (germain)
I just wanted to share this with you, as you site has become a very
familiar place for me over the past week. I just purchased a Meade
ETX-125. I am so new at this, that everything I know about being an
amatuer astronomer, I read at your site.

Anyway, the day I brought my telescope home it was a crystal clear night
just outside of Chicago. I pointed it at the brightest star I could find
in the Eastern sky. What I saw amazed me. It was a planet and I could
make out cloud formations! I had no idea which planet it was, so I
looked up some info on the Internet, and found out it was Jupiter. I
could not believe that with the standard hardware I bought, I could
actually make out the detail of this planet from my backyard. I have
been out every night since to re-visit this most impressive experience.

I have since placed an order for some filiters and lenses, and I can't
wait to start experimenting with my newfound hobby. (I can't wait until
the moon is visible in my neck of the woods!) My wife is a photographer,
so I'm sure astrophotography is on the horizon (no pun intended)

I know this may seem a bit blaise to experienced stargazers, but I just
had to tell someone about what a fantastic feeling I got by bringing a
tiny little dot in the sky just a bit closer. I can't wait to see where
this all leads.

Thanks for your great site, and for your time....

Mike here: We all remember our first experience with a telescope and cherish those memories! Nothing to be shy about in that!
Subject:	40 MM EYEPIECE
Sent:	Tuesday, December 11, 2001 11:08:50
I need to ask a frivolous question. I need a low power eyepiece for my
ETX-125EC and I can't afford to spend an arm & leg for one now. I can
get an 40MM Orion Sirius Plossl for $60 as opposed to a Meade for $99.
Which would leave me 40 to spend on another accessory for the scope.
What is your opinion of the Orion eyepieces???

I appreciate your taking time to answer this for me.   

Mike here: I have no experience with the Orion eyepieces but I do have some filters from them as well as a pair of binoculars (no complaints on either). You might want to check the Accessory Reviews - Eyepieces page for some comments on either 40mm eyepieces, including one from Scopetronix.
Subject:	MY EXPERIENCE WITH ETX-125 and a rattling meniscus
Sent:	Tuesday, December 11, 2001 9:27:55
I started reading your feedbacks and I found it very interesting.

My ETX-125 is a very nice telescope accordingly its price. I use this
ETX125 a my portable one because my dark site is 500 miles round trip by
car. It did not travel a lot of times, but traveled a lot of miles. At a
regular inspection, before repacking in its case I heard a rattling
noise, I did not see anything odd, but noise was still there. Culprit
was a loose meniscus, then I retightned it and checked collimation as
much as possible with a star an a 9.7mm EP, it seemed OK. After a while
it was loose again. After carefully analizing the fault it was due to
the fact that the metal cap dragged the meniscus retainer ring. I fix
the problem with two very small drops of contact adhesive, and with my
primitive star test it seems OK.

This mail is to alert someone with the same problem and to ask some
directions on how to collimate (if ocassion arises) an ETX.

I do not even though sending to Meade because distributor in my country
do not have this service, and if I send it to meade it will be more
expensive than telescope itself due to customs paperwork and airfreight.

As I told you it seems to work preety well, it do not seems
un-collimated, I am asking how to collimate just in case.

Many thanks

Nestor Acosta

Buenos Aires ARGENTINA
Mike here: Normally you won't need to collimate the ETX Cassegrain-Maksutov telescopes but if you do, it is not a process to be undertaken lightly. Without a proper optical bench you will be doing a lot of adjust-check cycles and can pretty easily make things worse. But if you want to try, see the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	AC adapter question
Sent:	Monday, December 10, 2001 19:17:22
From: (A Papa)
Thank you for this site.  It has really helped me get the most out of my
ETX 125.  My question is about an AC adapter I have.  This adapter is
from the now somewhat outdated bag-phones that could be charged up in
your car cigarette lighter or with the use of this adapter.  The end of
the adapter is the "cup" type; identical to a car cigarette lighter
receptacle.  I know from reading your site that there is a range of
volts that is acceptable for use.  Still, however, I'm not sure if this
adapter's output is compatible for use with the ETX 125 and its external
adapter.  I thought I would list out the specs and get some advice as to
whether it was acceptable or not.
The adapter label says:

Class 2 transformer
Input:  120VAC 60Hz 14W
Output:  15VDC 400mA

It also shows the inner"dot" as + and the outer circle as -

Thanks for the help and continued success with your site.

Andy Papa
Mike here: 400mA might be a little low for simultaneous slewing in both axis but you might want to measure the actual voltage. Most reports seem to indicate a 12V rather than 15V.
Subject:	Site to find the magnetic declination for any longitude / latitude or ZIP code
Sent:	Monday, December 10, 2001 12:02:52
From: (Jim Kraemer)
I tried to find my magnetic declination to use a compass to set my ETX
to true north.  I looked in your link section and found one link titled
|      Magnetic Declination FAQ                                            |

and found it was a dead link.  The error message was that "You are not
authorized to view this page"

I found a cool new site some of our fellow ETXer may find interesting: 
The page title is "Geomagnetic Field Systhesis Program Input Form"

You can type in your exact ( longitude / latitude / altitude ) or just
use your Zip code.  If you pick your Zip code it fills in the required
information, runs a quick computation, and provides a simple output that
lists the magnetic declination and the delta in declination per year.  I
found out that for 10DEC01 the magnetic declination for area code 75248
was 5 degrees 10 minutes and was changing by -6 minutes per year.

As a bonus it allows you to pick any date between 1900 and 2005.

Jim Kraemer
Mike here: I'll remove that dead link. The other link is actually further down the Astronomy Links page but thanks for mentioning it.
Subject:	Geography Question
Sent:	Monday, December 10, 2001 10:50:33
From: (Michael Knapp)
A quick, hopefully not stipid, question. What approximate Latitudes
would you say are observable from central USA? -90deg to +30deg????


Mike here: I presume you mean "what Declinations are observable..." (I can see a few degrees of Latitude south and north of my location. If you live on a hill or a tall building you'll be able to see more...) So (this is a teaching opportunity so bear with me), if you lived at the equator you'll be able to see from 90 degree to -90 degree of Declination. If you lived at the North Pole you'd be able to see from 0 degree to 90 degree. If you lived at 45 degree North Latitude you'd see from 90 degree to -45 degree of Declination. By drawing some diagrams you can determine for yourself just how much of the Celestial Sphere you can see from any Latitude.


Thanks Mike. Makes perfect sense. I was thinking terresrial rather than
galactic. So, the "best" place to live would be at the equator where you
would have (assuming a flat horizon) the full galactic view of 180deg
and the "worst" place would be at either of the poles where you would
have only 90deg to view. Since I live at approx. 38deg North Lat., I
have from +90 to -38 to view (assuming clear horizons again).
Love the has helped this amateur tremendously.
Hoping for clear skies to look at Linear WM1 this weekend (does not look
good for the midwest)!

Subject:	Re: Southern Hemisphere "Go To" Alignment chart ?
Sent:	Monday, December 10, 2001 6:10:32
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Kevin
Keep prodding me....I am working on them, but the projects just keep
piling up! We have a lot of good friends down under and I need to get
these finished! Thanks for reminding me....

Clay Sherrod
P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

----- Original Message -----
> Hi Clay,
> Just bought an ETX-90EC last week, and I saw your "go to" charts for the
> northern hemisphere... and the note that says that you are working on the
> "down under" version as we read it...
> since that was back in January, I was wondering if you ever completed the
> Southern Hemisphere charts - I'd love to get them to help me with aligning
> the telescope!

Subject:	Re:  Re:  Focal Reducer
Sent:	Sunday, December 9, 2001 11:43:41
From: (Brian Gaines)
will theimages be much smaller
Mike here: A focal reducer does reduce the magnification. How much depends upon the design, but the image will be around 60-70% smaller.
Subject:	Viewfinder Adjustment screws on the ETX125
Sent:	Sunday, December 9, 2001 3:40:07
From: (Asam Khan)
Just received my ETX125 yesterday, and couldn't wait to get it set up. 
Just one problem, the viewfinder adjustment screws were really hard to
turn, eventually I ended up applying so much pressure that the screw
head snapped off (on two of them !!)  I'm not a big guy and don't really
think that I could have exerted (or should have been capable of
exerting) enough force to snap off a screw head.  Now my problem is that
I cannot align the viewfinder and it's really difficult  to locate
anything slightly fainter than the moon (managed to get some great views
of this though).  Went to my local hardware store and couldn't seem to
find a screw that small and of the same thread pitch.  Do you (or anyone
else on the site or at Meade) know the specifications of these little
screws so that I can get hold of some replacements.  Is there another
way of mounting the viewfinder so that it's aligned with the scope ? 
Please forgive this question, I'm a total novice and this is my first



PS Great Site, keep up the excellent work.
Mike here: Call Meade; they can send you a replacement (or two). I did find a reference to "brass 4-40 machine screws" that someone else used while waiting for replacement screws.
Subject:	ETX 125 primary is floatin' around....
Sent:	Saturday, December 8, 2001 23:29:11
From: (dgriff)
Knowing just enough to be dangerous, the wife and I purchased an ETX-125
this evening. After reading a little documentation we mounted it to the
883 tripod without any problem. It was while adjusting the finder
aimpoint to match the scope that I noticed (even had reason to adjust
it) that the focusing knob did not feel right. It would turn left and
right about 3/4 of a turn, then bind up. So I--and this is BEFORE
reading an article on your newly-discovered website-- did what you
normally do with a knob on a shaft that won't turn. I took it off and
checked the shaft. Well, I'm sure you know the rest of the story. Shaft
is gone, and I don't mean the movie. I'm leaving the tube upright (from
now on, anyway) and need to get an idea about my options. I live in S.
Cal and am close to the Meade factory. The store is closer and I really
believe we got a Monday or Friday scope. The azimuth scaled tape looks
like it was glued on--badly--and the dust cover was so tight that trying
to turn it loose resulted in turning the corrector plate assy., which I
found out was ok but definitely not necessary and certainly not
something that should happen accidentally. That applies to the focus
knob, too, especially on a brand new scope. Wonder if this item was ever
a display model before they boxed it up ....  Well, any thoughts or
comments would be appreciated. Been all over your site in the last 3
hours and wish I'd known about it before we purchased.

Don Griffith
Mike here: Getting the focus shaft back in place does require some disassembly, which would void any remaining warranty. Suggestion: since you live close to Meade's Irvine facility, just take it in. Talk nice when you explain what happened and you could possibly get it repaired while you wait. Take the purchase receipt with you.
Subject:	Question
Sent:	Saturday, December 8, 2001 19:46:06
From: (Brillo)
I read the review on the SAC-IVb CCD Imager and was wondering if you
have had an opportunity to use the Astrovid Color Planetcam at this

Any advise would be helpful I am new to astronomy. The scope it will be
used on is a ETX-125EC
Mike here: I haven't. You might want to see the following pages (in the Feedback Archives) for comments on other Astrovid models:
Autostar for February 2001
General for February 1999
General for July 1999
General for March 2001
Subject:	Re: Electronic Eyepiece mentioned in the General category of your ETX website
Sent:	Saturday, December 8, 2001 13:28:43
From: (Sherry Kraemer)
I saw a posting that mentioned an "Electronic Eyepiece". I hadn't seen
anything about it or on the Meade website.  Is this one of the image
enhanced eyepieces like Collins Inst sells or something else?

Where can I read about the new "Electronic Eyepiece"?

Jim Kraemer
Mike here: The eyepiece is (was) bundled with a telescope at some dealers. It would seem to be similar to the Collins eyepiece enhancers. There doesn't seem to be any info about it on Meade's site.
Subject:	Frost and the ETX
Sent:	Saturday, December 8, 2001 9:49:15
From: (John Collins)
I live in a part of the continent (Toronto area) that is cold but dry at
this time of year. I have used my ETX125 twice outside on cold nights. I
found that when I brought my telescope inside after the first observing
session, quite a bit of dew from the inside moist air formed on its
surfaces causing it to get wetter than I would have liked,  but this dew
eventually evaporated.

On the second night, I took the original plastic bag that the scope came
wrapped in outside, and let the air in it be replaced with dry cold air.
At the conclusion of my observing session, I put the plastic bag over
the scope and sealed it with a piece of string under the mounting plate
of the tripod. Inside the house, I saw that lots of dew had formed on
the outside of the bag, but not on the scope inside. I also noticed,
that the scope warmed up much more slowly (probably reducing internal

Do you have any advice about using the scope in really cold weather and
protecting it after it's brought back inside? Is my second method


John Collins
Thornhill, ON
Mike here: That's an interesting idea about letting the dry air stay trapped inside the bag. Normally you don't want the telescope covered when you bring it indoors but since you've got dry air (well, as dry as you think it is) in there, I can't think of any problems.


Yes, it can get really dry here in deep winter. On a cold clear day or
night, the air is quite desert-like.

Thanks for the reply. I certainly take the plastic off after the scope
has warmed up to room temperature.


Subject:	re: radio shack power supply
Sent:	Thursday, December 6, 2001 21:32:40
From: (richard seymour)
My ETX90/ec and Autostar have been using the Radio Shack 273-1773 (with
"N" adaptaplug) for about two years now... quite happily. I -did- extend
the cord to 25 feet.

And: Dick, Mike Thanks for your time and the information. I purchased the Radio Shack power supply you suggested Dick, and it's working GREAT! Happy Holidays to both of you. Greg
Subject:	re: Which Telescope?
Sent:	Thursday, December 6, 2001 21:30:18
From: (richard seymour)
There are lots of possibilities in the below-$400 range.

Even with GoTo.

Among the leaders are the Meade 114mm and 127mm scopes: the "4504", the
114EQ-DH4, the DS-114 are the 114mm members. They're available in a
variety of packages, some with 1.25" eyepieces, some with 0.96"
eyepieces. (if you get the latter, call Meade's 800- number and request
the free 1.25" adapter).  Prices range from about $139 ( to
$400.   Walmart and Costco both carry them (at times). Be a little
careful in your shopping: the exact same scope can appear with a $100
price-spread depending upon the source.

Those are all "classic" Newtonian scopes, and include a 494 Autostar to
do the GoTo duties.  Visit the yahoo discussion groups:
to read users' comments... the left-margin leads to "files" sections
which have many hints and kinks for improving performance.

They're decent starter scopes, and can be greatly enhanced by adding
quality eyepieces.

Another approach is a *used* ETX90/ec... (try, or Rivers
Camera in Dover, New Hampshire) and you can buy the Autostar for $50
(new!) from, and elsewhere (such as eBay). You might
have to get a model 495 (instead of the "correct" 497) Autostar... but
it can be upgraded to full 497-hood.

have fun

Subject:	Focal Reducer
Sent:	Thursday, December 6, 2001 19:21:27
From: (Brian Gaines)
For astrophotography would using a focal reducer make it so I can take
better or faster deep space images using a 35 mm camera or would it not
really make a difference what so ever? If so Do you recommend buying one
or no (ETX 125 is what I have)
Mike here: Focal reducers will concentrate the light into a smaller area. So yes, they can shorten exposure times at the sacrifice of image size.
Subject:	Orion Binoculars
Sent:	Thursday, December 6, 2001 15:31:37
From: (Stephen Rigsby)
Mike: I seem to recollect that at some time in the past I saw a message
from you to the effect that you had purchased a pair of binoculars from
Orion and were pleased with them. Is this correct, and if so, could you
tell me which model? Thanks.
Stephen Rigsby
Mike here: Good memory. I purchased the Orion 7x50 Vista Binocular in Nov 99. I like them.
Subject:	General Information
Sent:	Thursday, December 6, 2001 15:07:28
From: (Steven D. Place)
I LOVE YOUR SITE, holy cow i can't belive it, someone spending so much
time on such an informative site. . .their hard to come by these days!
Anywho, as i sit in front of my scope i can't help but ponder that i
need a ccd autoguider for myself well. . .autoguider/imager. See i had
my autoguider which is a 201xt hooked to an OAG, which works ok, but not
as good as other ways. Now, i have seen many sites that have the OAG
taken away, and instead have the ccd autoguider hooked to a seperate
finderscope. Now i have a finderscope that is only 8x50, but its not
just any scope finder. I have what you could think of a mineature
refractor scope, with a right angle amici lense and a eyepiece which is
interchangable. So basically its a little scope. Now, my question is,
can the autoguider work with my little 8x50, like any other scope, but
also with the amici lense?

Anything you can provide would be beneficial. Thank you.

Steven D. Place
Mike here: Autoguiders work by detecting a change in a guide star's position on the CCD. The lower the magnification of the image being projected onto the CCD the larger the movement has to be to be detected. So, an 8X finderscope will likely not provide the tracking results you desire unless you are observing at really low magnifications.
Subject:	#883 Meade Tripod head to plate match.
Sent:	Thursday, December 6, 2001 13:11:01
I just got my new ETX-125EC yesterday and one of the first things I
noticed today was the mounting plate rocks on the tripod top. I had read
on your site that someone else had this problem. (Rocking east/west) I
decided to find out why. 	CONCLUSION: The tripod top is not flat. I
think they shimmed up each side to help this problem. Well, I'm going
one step further, I have disassembled the head and I'm going to machine
it flat. (Could also be done by using 180 grit wet or dry sandpaper on a
flat surface, I think a lot of it is the paint.) UPDATE: Just finished
machining the tripod head. Plate fits flat now without rocking.  Another
idea is to make a round rubber gasket to replace the 3 rubber feet.

Only advantage of 3 feet is no rocking on a flat surface like a table
top. Cut out in the center so access to batteries is still possible.
SIZE= 6-3/4" OD x 5-3/4" ID x .062" thick. What is your opinion of this
idea about the rubber donut?  This would give full support all around
the plate.

I am also going to drill and tap the very center of the head so I can
mount the plate permanently to the tripod head with a countersunk
flathead screw flush with the top of plate. This should make mounting
the scope much easier as I won't have to align both the plate and the
scope at the same time. This is now done and it makes mounting the scope
on the tripod much simpler.

I have read 90% of your site and I am really impressed with it. I will
be visiting it often. I hope I can contribute to it by my experience as
a machinist &

Subject:	Which Telescope ?
Sent:	Wednesday, December 5, 2001 15:31:41
From: (Mike Embury)
Can anyone help me choose the right telescope please?

I want to buy a Meade telescope for my Wife, who is very new to

I like the EXT 70AT as the package comes with the autostar system. I'm
told that the difference between the 70AT and the 90EC/9ORA is huge, in
terms of visibility. As my budget is approx $300_$400  i'm stuck.
Do I go for the 7OAT, as the autostar would be really useful for us
novices of the skies? Or do I sacrifice the autostar for better
viewability with the 9ORA?  Ideally the EXT 9O EC with autostar
would solve everything but i'm not sure my money can stretch that
far.So, basically, is the 70AT "good" enough for the complete amateur?

Thanks to anyone who may be able to help.
Mike Embury

Subject:	Meade Electronic Eyepiece - what do you think
Sent:	Wednesday, December 5, 2001 4:37:44
I was thinking about getting this scope for my eight year old, but I
want to use the eye piece on the etx.

I did not see any reviews about the eye piece on your web site.

Any info you could provide will be appreciated.


Steve Petzold
Mike here: You are right, there are no reviews of this online (yet). If you do get it, feel free to contribute a review!
Subject:	download using windows xp
Sent:	Wednesday, December 5, 2001 6:17:18
From: (
Great site. I was wondering if anybody has down loaded the new autostar
info using windows xp? Is there any difference using windows xp? Thank
you for keeping up on all the latest ETX stuff. The second question I
have is I think my focus knob is sloppy do you have a picture as to how
to go about trying to fix it. I used DR. Sherrods pictures to fine tune
my 125. I haven't found any pictures on the focus area. And again thank
you. Brian
Mike here: I'll post your inquiry re: WXP. As to the "sloppy" focus knob, can you define that? And there are some photos at Doc G's site (see the Telescope Tech Tips page).
Subject:	question
Sent:	Tuesday, December 4, 2001 19:50:38
I am pondering weather or not to buy an ETX-90EC. Is it good, or is
there something elese better. Do i have to buy a SLR 35mm camera to take
pictures, or can i use my olympus stylus epic? if so, what accessories
would i need to take good pictures?
Mike here: If you read through my ETX Site you will see just what the "Mighty ETX" can do. Whether it will live up to YOUR expectations for a telescope, only you can determine that. As to digital camera photography, there are many examples in the Galleries. Also, see the Astrophotography page for more and the Accessory Reviews - Astrophotography for adapters.
Subject:	Photos?
Sent:	Tuesday, December 4, 2001 18:59:06
From: (Brian Gaines)
y dont u post pictures anymore of ur own work?
Mike here: Several reasons, all relating to being extremely busy answering email, maintaining the Site, work (Site pledges don't allow this to be my full time job!), personal things (gee, I have a personal life?), lousy weather when I do have time to observe, etc, etc, etc.
Subject:	Quesiton about the Advanced Field Tripod...
Sent:	Tuesday, December 4, 2001 15:14:52
As I said in a previous email, the Advanced Field Tripod (887) is much
better than the Deluxe Field Tripod (883).  There is one problem that I
was wondering if someone could help me with.

The Advanced Field Tripod does not come with a tray to hold my
eyepieces?  I have to keep them in my pocket.  Is there any kind of
attachment or tray that I can clip on to the tripod to hold at least 3


Mike here: There are some trays that mount between the tripod head and the telescope base. See the Accessory Reviews - Tripods page for some of these. You can also make one; see the Telescope Tech Tips page. Note: I don't know if what is described on these pages will work with the #887.
Subject:	AC power supply
Sent:	Tuesday, December 4, 2001 12:59:23
Can I use any off the shelf 'i.e.' Radio Shack transformer for a power
source to my ETX 90? I would of course be sure it provided 12 VDC  and
have a positive center pin. I have also noticed that a lot of power
sources say 12 VDC but actually put out 13-17 VDC. What is the Max this
unit can handle without doing damage to the drive?

Thanks Greg
Mike here: Search the Site for "Radio Shack" and you should find some info. You can also search the Site for "power supply" or see the "power supply" items on the Telescope Tech Tips page.
Subject:	Supercharge Service
Sent:	Tuesday, December 4, 2001 6:08:31
From: (Sontag, Richard)
I just wanted to let all of you know my appreciation for Dr. Clay and
his ETX Supercharge service.

I called him a few weeks ago and discussed the usual problems I was
having with my scope as well as a very serious DEC vibration which I
felt was not due entirely to my 883 tripod.  He told me to send the
scope off to him immediately.  In four days he was servicing the scope
and found that it had three stripped screws in the DEC worm gear
mounting which was causing DEC slippage and vibration in use.  In three
days he had the scope in perfect condition and on its way back to me. 
He was very professional and pleasant to work with.

I finally got to try out the scope last night and cannot believe that my
scope has the same GOTO drive in it.  Practically all of the targets
were in view of the 26mm eyepiece with no vibration!  I could finally
really see Jupiter and Saturn vibration free  with no rubber banding!

I highly recommend that anyone having an ETX125 consider Dr. Clay's
Once again.  Thank You Dr. Clay.
Dick Sontag
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Hello Dick and thanks!  I am very glad the scope is working well for
you....I knew it was a "keeper" when it left here.  Remember me telling
you that " won't believe the difference?"  It really turned out
well and just in time for that wonderful winter sky!

I hope that your astronomical endeavors are filled with discovery and
excitement for years to come...

Thanks again!

Clay Sherrod
P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Re: pier stuff
Sent:	Tuesday, December 4, 2001 4:48:25
From: (Clay Sherrod)
To:	Robert
Hi Bob - glad the scope is doing good for these clear winter months
coming up!

Those washers are stock items at Lowes and Home Depot back in the "bolts
and nuts section."  If those exact sizes are not available just find
some (larger perhaps) that will do!

Good will very much like that pier!

Clay Sherrod
P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  Remember me? I sent my scope to you a while back for the
  upgrades....the scope still works very good, it goes where it's
  supposed to, which is a miracle!

  I was inspired to build your pier for the etx125ec, as laid out on
  mikes web site. However, I am having a problem locating the 3" super
  thin teflon washer you talk about, as well as the teflon spacers
  between all joints. I can find delran and nylon, but no teflon

  Did you have these specially made?

  Thanks for all your help!


Subject:	new owner
Sent:	Monday, December 3, 2001 14:55:02
From: (bryan)
I am a new telescope owner and would like some input on eyepieces and
accessories. I have purchased a ETX-125 EC, Autostar,Field tripod,2X
Barlow,Auto Focuser,and a hard case. My intentions are to just have fun
with this but don't want to waste money on eye pieces I'll never use.
Also what is your opinion of the 3X Barlow ? Thank you in advance for
your help. I intent on buying your book if I can find it tonight after


Bryan Harhai
Mike here: There are a lot of comments about accessories on the various Accessory Reviews pages and on the Buyer/New User Tips page. I don't have a 3X Barlow so have no comment on it. As to the book, it is probably not in the local bookstores yet; probably next month.
Subject:	ancient history
Sent:	Monday, December 3, 2001 13:51:12
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Mike - I cannot tell you how much I

1) thoroughly enjoyed the article on "Ancient History"
2) absolutely went back in time and saw myself in your place in those

Man, what a coincidence!  I had a "lab" in the late 1950's that was
equipped with microscopes, beakers, a short wave radio and all sorts of
interesting things for the coming space age....I did not have the
Edmund, but I DID have my trusty Gilbert 3" telescope mounted right next
to my work desk, just as you have in your photography.

Likewise, the walls had all the standard celestial charts, one of which
is identical to the one to your right on the wall in the photograph.

My "lab" was first a converted storage room that I  ran my mother, her
washing machine, hand tools and all out of.  Later, when my folks moved
I came home from a summer camp of two weeks to be surprise to a new home
and a "real lab" built into the house.  I had long since outgrown the
old Gilbert, but it still had its roots there....

Wow, what a trip down memory lane you have provided.

Thanks....nice Christmas present that money can't buy.

P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	erecting prism focal length
Sent:	Monday, December 3, 2001 8:44:28
From: (Tom Laverty)
I've recently bought an ETX-90EC, and one of the accessories I have is
the erecting prism, which I find very useful. I enjoy having access to
two eyepieces with just a flip of the mirror. Is there any focal reducer
or extender available (for either eyepiece port) that would make the
focal lengths the same? It would be ideal to not have to refocus when
going from one eyepiece to the other.

Thanks for your help and I really enjoy the site!


Tom Laverty
Mike here: I've not come across a "parfocal-er" although there is a focal reducer (wide field adapter; see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products" page.
Subject:	re: telescope recommendations...
Sent:	Sunday, December 2, 2001 21:39:58
From: (richard seymour)
You wrote...

> but still for no more than $300-$400.

Which almost forces the answer to be: as large a Dobsonian scope
as you can squeeze into your budget.

With the 114mm to help point the way, a Dobsonian is the best
 bang-for-buck of any telescope class.  For $400 you can get an
8 inch (or better, if you buy used).  The light-gathering of an
LX-90 at a quarter the cost.  It will blow any sub 6-inch 
 refractor out of the water.

What does a Dob lack?  Snazzy mounts.  Motors.
-you- point the scope, and -you- help it follow things....
 but the images you can get are wonderful.

There are many good brands: Orion, Meade, and others... pick up
an issue of Sky & Tele or Astronomy to be buried by them.

For looking at faint extended deep-sky objects, you need -aperture-.
The DS-90 will NOT outperform your 114mm.  Especially if you **call
Meade** and get the free 1.25" eyepiece adapter and put a decent
eyepiece into your 114mm. (such as a Meade 4000 Super Plossel
family member, or a Televue, or even a Harry Seibert).
From the sounds of it, $50 to $70 spent on a (far) better eyepiece
 might really amaze you with the power of the 114mm.
Collimation of the optics might help, too.
 (look into the eyepiece hole without an eyepiece. If you don't see
 your reflected eyeball *centered* in the middle of your view,
 it wants to be collimated.)

All of the above is my opinion, based upon the short note you sent
to Mike's site.  My own scope is an ETX90ec, but i have borrowed
and/or used larger (and smaller) systems... including the 114.
(which, with any sort of decent eyepiece, does a better job on 
Andreomeda than my ETX90 does).(but even an 8" won't -show- dust lanes
 in that far- off galaxy... )

Other approaches would be a used classic 8" Celestron C-8 or 
 Meade LX-10 or LX-50.  About $650 at Rivers Camera in New Hampshire.
That way you get a motor drive, too. (nbot GoTo, just sidereal

have fun

Subject:	choice to make
Sent:	Sunday, December 2, 2001 21:12:26
From: (r)
i would like some of your input and opinions.just bought a
ds114ec.beautiful scope but motor drives vibrated so bad that nothing
looked acceptable(my etx60 vibrates less!)tried all kinds of stuff to
kill vibration.nevertheless i sold the scope budget can handle
a new etx90ec or a ds2114at.which would you prefer.please your opinion
would be appreciated.want to purchase either one on monday.
Mike here: As I've stated on the ETX Site before, I had no experience with the DS models so can't prefer one over the ETX models. As to vibrations, the quality and sturdiness of the tripod will influence this a lot. Also, keep in mind that more aperture yields brighter views with more details.

And an update:

thanks mike bought the etx 90 today and love it (so far)...
makes the ds114 look like dog doo.but my friend who i sold it to loves
it.thanks for the feedback your a gem...

Subject:	ETX question
Sent:	Sunday, December 2, 2001 17:02:42
From: (Mike Walker)
I found a link on to you website when i was searching for
more information on Meade's ETX telescopes.  I'm currently looking to
buy myself one, but i'm not sure what i should buy.  For the past year
i've been working that the Discovery Channel store (formerly the Nature
Company), and i've found myself becoming more and more interested in the
telescopes we sell, which is the entire ETX line, the LX90, and LX200
8"s 10"s and 12"s.  I've even become one of the stores top telescope
salesmen, when someone comes in for one they point to me, and i've never
owned a scope in my life!  To cut to the chase, i'm trying to decide
which of the ETXs i should buy, i've ruled out the 60 and 70 because i
know i'll be hungry for more power soon after getting one of those.  I
have had my sights on the 105.  it has about 30% more light gathering
capabilities over the 90, and its $200 cheaper than the 125.  i've heard
many compliments about the 90, and the 105 is really too new to have
helpful reviews, but i'm assuming that since its a little more powerful
than the 90 then those compliments are universial.  Also i've heard
about problems w/ the 125's mirror obstructing the light and making it
equivalent to 3 or 4 inch scopes.  so really i'm asking for you opinion,
i would consider my self a high end beginner just because i know most
everything on paper there is to know about these pieces of equipment,
however i've never looked at anything more than people across the mall
w/ them.  i'm planning on buying the scope, the deluxe field tripod and
the autostar at once...because i get a 15% employee discount until the
end of the year.  so the opinion of an expert would be greatly

thanks in advance
Mike here: Before you decide on which telescope to get you need to decide how you want to use it. Do you want to see a lot of details on the planets, do you want to view faint deep sky objects, do you want to do astrophotography, do you want portability, etc. Once you know those you can decide upon the right aperture and overall telescope size. Then comes learning the night sky; do you want to invest the time required or do you want a GOTO system. Decisions, decisions, decisions.


what would you recommend as an overall etx, where i can get details of
the planets and also see some of the deep sky objects? that's why i'm
thinking 105, because it gathers more light than the 90, so it would be
able to see fainter objects, and the focal length is also longer, so it
should equal if not more planetary ability
Mike here: I looked briefly through an ETX-105EC at the First Annual Mighty ETX Star Party. My report is there. Whether it will be enough aperture for you, only you can decide.
Subject:	I have a question
Sent:	Saturday, December 1, 2001 13:03:06
From: (Harry)
I have been through your web site and saw all the beautiful astrophoto
you took. They are great works.

I notice that you used Ricoh RDC 4200 for some of the picture, I have
that digital camera myself. I wonder, how did long you let the camera to
do it's exposure time? Because I as far as I know RDC-4200 could only do
1 second for its longest exposure time, is it possibel for the picture
to come out so clear?

Thanks for your time.

Mike here: The Ricoh photos were all automatic exposure, with some exposure level (-2 to +2).
Subject:	ETX90EC and long-barrel eyepieces
Sent:	Saturday, December 1, 2001 12:53:45
From: (Mike Berro)
I just bought a used ETX90EC with quite a few extras (autostar, electric
focuser, etc.), and am pretty happy with it so far (one night.) However,
I find that with any of my eyepieces (and my one barlow) that have a
longer barrel than the 26mm that comes with it, they don't sit all the
way down, and in some cases stick out quite a bit, especially with a
filter on the bottom. I'm wondering if this is normal, and/or a problem.
I have to refocus quite a bit when exchanging eyepieces. It does,
however, make it easier to get my eye close to the eyepiece, what with
the RA finder on it.


Mike here: If the image focuses you are OK. And yes, it is normal to have long eyepieces or some eyepieces with one or more filters to not go all the way in.
Subject:	Recommendation for a "next telescope"
Sent:	Saturday, December 1, 2001 10:34:42
From: (Owlman)
My daughter (college age) has a Meade 114m reflector that we bought for
her 2 years ago at Costco.  It had .965" opticals, which I think are not
great.  She has kept her interest in it, but all we ever look at is
Jupiter, Saturn, and a very small and fuzzy Orion Nebula.  I'd like to
upgrade her to something that shows a sharper image and can do better at
seeing things like Andromeda, star clusters, and nebulae.  Our local
telescope store has recommended a  refractor--he has a Celestron 102m
(@$449), a Polaris and a Meade DS90-EC.  I've also looked at the NexStar
114GT and the NexStar 4.  I'm starting to feel lost.  I'm looking for
the impossible, I know--a solid improvement over the Meade 114m
reflector, but still for no more than $300-$400.  Do you have any

Thanx much.

Mike here: If you and your daughter know your way around the sky you won't need a GOTO telescope. That can save you some money. So, if you don't need a GOTO system, the perhaps the ETX-90RA (on sale at Shutan Camera and Video for $200) will satisfy your needs. NOTE: this model is NOT upgradeable to an Autostar GOTO system. Alternatively, you could consider the DS models. But before you decide, you need to determine just what your expectations are. Keep in mind that the more aperture you have, the brighter the views, the more useful magnification you can achieve, and the less portable the telescope will be.


Thanx very much for your comments.  I've been struggling here.  We don't
have a lot of money for an upgrade, so it's crucial that I get the best
I can for what we've got.  I'm not sure how far my daughter will go with
her interest, but she still hauls her telescope out to our mountains or
desert each time we go camping.  I've been trying to get her interested
in binaries and clusters, but her current telescope provides such a
fuzzy view that we're not seeing that much.  I think a lot of it may be
the eyepieces (.965"), but I don't want to invest in better eyepieces in
this size.

Subject:	Tripod Dilemma
Sent:	Saturday, December 1, 2001 7:22:56
From: (Scott Rosenberg)
I just received an ETX-125EC as a gift.  It came with the #883 Deluxe
Tripod.  This tripod seems too flimsy for the 18 pound ETX-125.  It
would be useable in alt-az mode, but I'd be very wary changing the
center of balance by polar aligning it.  The other Meade tripod
available for my scope is the #887 Advanced Field Tripod.  This tripod,
in my opinion, is overkill.  It is the one used for a MUCH heavier LX-10
SCT.  It is heavy and cuts down on portability.  I called Meade to see
if they have any official modifications to the #883 that makes it
sturdier.  They told me that the #883 has been discontinued and they are
now shipping the #884.  The new tripod is supposed to be MUCH sturdier
yet it retains the 11 pound weight of the #883.  I was told the legs are
tubular steel, adjustable in height from 25" to 43" and the equatorial
mount is permanently attached and adjustable from 20 to 90 with a
"sliding latitude bar marked incrementally.  I was told that the ETX-105
and 125 slide easily onto a round fully supported platform and that the
tripod is as stable as the #887 without the heavy wedge.  Best of all,
it's the same price as the discontinued #883, and comes with a nice
ballistic nylon carrying case with handle.  Of course, I am returning my
#883 to the Discovery Channel Store.  Unfortunately, although Meade says
it's currently shipping, no authorized dealer I called even heard of it.
 Here's my dilemma (bet you were wondering when I'd get to it...)  
After reviewing your site and other resources, I discovered the JMI
Megapod.  At only 5 pounds heavier than the new #884, it seems to have
some features that the Meade tripod doesn't.  It has a platform for the
Autostar and spots for four EPs.  It also has blinking LEDs at the feet
of the pod (which are a fabulous idea since I've misaligned more than a
few scopes in my day after having bumped the leg in the dark.)  The main
thing is that people out there have been using them and are pleased with
their performance.  Having myself never seen the new Meade tripod, I
thought you may have or at least heard something about it.  I can't
decide what to do.  Is it possible that you or one of the other Mighty
ETXers will soon do a side by side comparison of these two tripods (sort
of like the ETX-125EC vs.Nextar5 comparison?)  I'm sure this will help
me (and future ETX purchasers/recipients) make an informed decision. 
None of the non-mail order retailers I could possibly purchase the #884
from in person (when it's finally in stock) carry the Megapod, so I
can't actually compare them for myself in person.  What's your thoughts
and opinions?  Thanks.

Mike here: The #884 is indeed a new tripod. Dealers should have them soon. As to the #883 you already have, I use mine with an ETX-125EC in Alt/Az. It is usable Polar mode but I would keep it at its shortest height. I do that even in Alt/Az. Less vibrations that way.
Subject:	Parfocal eyepieces for ETX
Sent:	Saturday, December 1, 2001 3:02:02
From: (Ian Bell)
It occurs to me that it might be possible to make the provided eyepieces
closer to parfocal by shimming the eyepiece that requires the objective
cell to be further out. Surely, what matters is the ocular - objective
distance and not how it is achieved. I don't think it would cause any
problems (unless the difference is so large that the eyepiece would come
out of the holder completely). Am I wrong ?

Ian Bell
Mike here: Essentially that is true. Search the site for "parfocal" and you'll get several hits. Specifically, see the "ETX-60AT, ETX-70AT Feedback" page from May 2001.
Subject:	Wow....fame and fortune!
Sent:	Saturday, December 1, 2001 0:36:49
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Check it out!'s gallery!

P. Clay Sherrod -
Arkansas Sky Observatory

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