GENERAL FEEDBACK
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Last updated: 31 December 2003
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.

Subject: Success On The First Try
Date: 12/31/03, 18:56
From: Greg Nolan (gwiz_32@yahoo.com)
I hope you will post this on your site, but if you don't, that's cool
too. I just wanted to thank you for this website as I was able to setup
a Polar alignment on my first try tonight. Saturn, Orion Nebula, Moon, a
few others....dead on every time. I tracked Saturn for almost an hour.

I am a complete novice and had perfect success due no none other than
your website which provided me with all the information I needed to make
everything right the first time. I can only hope most people getting ETX
telescopes are aware of this site before they try an alignment, because
I don't think I could have done it without you guys.

I can't wait to get home this weekend and turn my family loose on some
views - good skies permitting.

On to astrophotography!

Thanks for all your help!!
Greg Nolan


=====

Thank You,

Gregory J. Nolan

Subject: Meade ETX 60-AT
Date: 12/31/03, 10:54
From: David Harding (davidkharding@hotmail.com)
Well, before I even turn on the AutoStar, I face the tube due north and
level the tripod and tube. Then I turn it on, and I select Two Star
alignment, usually something like Vega and Capella, but here's where the
problem starts. When I select the star, and it begins slewing, the scope
ends up pointing in a horribly wrong direction. I have the proper
longitude and latitude for my location punched in, as well as the date,
time etc., and I've tried training the drives a few times. Neither
alignment nor GO TO functions seem to work correctly. I have no idea
what the problem is, but I think it has something to do with 'user
error'. Please help!

Thanks,
-David
Mike here: Try selecting a nearby CITY for location and see if that helps. Perhaps you made an entry error when entering your latitude and longitude.

And:

Oh, I had. Dallas and Ft. Worth are both equally far away, so I just use
Dallas.

Subject: ETX horizontal motor problem
Date: 12/31/03, 09:49
From: Eddy (eddy.lermytte@pandora.be)
I purchased yesterday an ETX 125 with a autostar and tried out the
vertical and horizontal movement. Vertcially everythings okay but
horizontally no movement at all, just a light click when I release the
button. As stated on your site elsewhere I tried to move a few times
manually between stops but no avail. I tried the lock in various
positions but could never get any further than halfway. Any ideas?

Kind regards

Eddy
Mike here: Normally, the horizontal lock only goes halfway. Don't overtighten it. Have you tried changing the slewing speed to a faster speed?

And:

No, how can I do that.

Thanks for your fast answer.

Eddy
Mike here: Well, I could tell you but you will get more out of the telescope if you read the manual.

And:

True, but I have the feeling that there something wrong with the scope
and I could screw things up by forcing to much on the motor.

By the way when the scope calibrates it does the vertical movement first
and when it would start to make the horizontal movement, I suppose, the
readout of the Autostar says "motor error" (maybe not the correct
translation the software is in French).

I changed the speed to 5 and 9 but no change. When I push the horizontal
movement button I hear a light humming that dies away immediately and
when I let the button go a light click and the scope haven't moved at
all.
Mike here: Motor Fault means that there was a problem communicating. Can occur if batteries are too weak, an axis lock is too tight, or the cable isn't properly inserted. It can also occur if there is a more serious problem. BUT did you select the proper telescope model and mounting mode in the Autostar?

And:

I use 8 recharchable 1.5 volt batteries which I fully charged before
using the scope (as the vertical movement works fine I suppose we're ok
there). I now also did a full reset and it recognised the Etx 125 fine.
For the mounting I'm not sure, can you guide me a bit.
Mike here: Glad you solved the problem. Check the Setup->Telescope menu for model and mounting mode.

And more:

Sorry I didn't explain well. The problem is still the same. And I have
not the slightest idea where to look anymore.
Mike here: Well, if the scope won't slew horizontally even if you use the fastest slewing speed then there is probably no recourse but to return it to the dealer for an exchange.

Subject: Polar Alignment
Date: 12/31/03, 07:51
From: "Nolan, Gregory J." (gjnolan@tva.gov)
First of all, let's get the same thing you read (every time you get an
email) out of the way...

Great site...I have spent many months on this site in preparation for
reception the ETX-105 for Christmas and I feel confidant that I will be
able to properly align my scope tonight (first attempt at alignment). I
couldn't have been this prepared without your site.

Questions...

1. I have read Dr. Sherrod's 5 part submission on ETX tips and he
recommends setting the wedge to my latitude (35.10). On the other hand,
Ed (eaa@peakpeak.com) recommends, in his "Easy, All Most Portable Polar
Alignment" submission, setting the wedge to the compliment of my
latitude (54.50). Which is it?

2. I understand that Polaris is not TRUE north but approximately 1
degree away from polaris. Dr. Sherrod states "...adjust the image of
Polaris until it appears in the field of view of any eyepiece the
provides ABOUT ONE (1) DEGREE field of view...True Celestial North is
about one degree FROM POLARIS in a line that extends nearly through the
end star of the little dipper....named Kochab...". I only have (for now)
the 26mm that came with the scope. Does it provide one (1) degree FOV
and what will one degree towards Kochab look like in reference to center
on the 26mm?

Thank you,
Greg Nolan
gwiz_32@yahoo.com
Mike here: 1. Depends upon how you measure the angle. But if the "Wedge" has latitude markings, use that. 2. Using the Telescope Calculator (found on the Astronomy Links page), the FOV comes out to 0.91. You can verify that using the Moon, which is about 0.50 degrees. As to what the view would like, check out one of the free, shareware, or commercial planetarium apps (see the Astronomy Links page as well as the Accessory Reviews - Software page).

And:

Thanks for the response. Yes..the Meade 884 has the latitude markings
but I am still confused whether I should set it to my actual latitude
(35.10) or the compliment (54.50)???
Mike here: Actual.

And:

Thanks Mike....and you were right about the astonomy links. There is the
"Northern Hemisphere Polar Alignment" Tool that shows you exactly what
true north will look like in relation to Polaris (through either a
striaght or right angle view finder). Should have dug a little deeper
before unnecessarily bothering you.

Subject: ETX & Happy New Year
Date: 12/31/03, 07:43
From: Dieter Wolf (WolfDieter@t-online.de)
with my thanks for a year's effort to read, answer, sort and post our
mails on to your website I wish you and Laurraine and all the cats
around a peacefull and happy 'New Year 2004'.

-- 
Dieter Wolf (Munich, Germany)

Subject:
Date: 12/27/03, 14:35
From: Tomas Hekkers (tomashekkers@hotmail.com)
For half a year I own a ETX 90 and I'm having some trouble with the
combination of the flip-mirror and the 4000 40mm SP. It doesn't give the
total view of the field of the eyepiece and I think the mirror is too
small for coverage of the 40 mm field.

Do you have a reasonable solution for this problem?
 
Thanks again and clear skies from Holland,
Tomas Hekkers
Mike here: Please read the Email Etiquette item on my ETX Site Home page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing subject entry.
Get the Shutan "Visual Back" (see the Accessory Reviews - Showcase Products page) to use an eyepiece on the rear port.

Subject: Collimation Test Result and Question for ETX 125
Date: 12/30/03, 18:34
From: GSB (sjoshi@gsb.uchicago.edu)
I have suspected for some time that my ETX 125 optics is not perfectly
collimated (or at least aligned).  For example, while I have observed up
to 3 Saturn rings and the Cassini division, the rings have always
appeared compressed at the lower end of the image.  I ran a quick
collimation test tonight, would appreciate your thoughts on results and next steps:
 
Prep and test:
 
- cooled scope down for 2 hours by leaving outside
- focused on 4 stars - Polaris, 2 stars in Orion, and Aldeberan
- since "seeing" was so-so, could not attempt more than 250 Magnification
- stayed with Nagler 9 mm (Mag = 211)
- observed stars in focus, and slightly out of focus (by turning focus
knob counter clockwise)

Observations:

- while in focus, observed more diffraction rings near the "top" but not
the "bottom".  However, I suspected that some of the problem might be
related to the quality of "seeing", so I also tried the "out of focus"
test
- when positioned slightly out of focus, I observed 3 circular bands of
light seperated by dark bands
- when the center of the star was positioned at the center of the FOV
(field of view), the bands were always spaced closer at the lower end
("down" with respect to eyepiece view ) than at the side ends of the
bands or the "top" of the bands.  In other words, the lower ends of the
bands appeared seperate but compressed and closer together
- the bands had the most separation at the "top"
- this result did not change when I moved the star "down"
- when I positioned the star about halfway between the center of the FOV
and the top of the FOV (ie.. moved the star "up"), the bands appeared
unformly distributed all the way around, ie.  the image was PERFECTLY
symmetrical.  This was the view I was expecting
- moving the star to the "left" or the "right" (as observed through
eyepiece) did not impact the spacing at the top or the bottom.  However,
the bands did compress or expand as expected either on the left or the
right.
- the above results did not change, regardless of which star I focused
on (tried a few to compensate for any impact of declination)

Questions:

A.  Does my ETX have a collimation problem, or could it be something
else ?  On a separate note, focusing has been always been a little
tricky, with the image bouncing around wildly, even with a 13 mm eye
piece.

B.  Should I return the scope to Meade for repairs ?  Bought the scope
in May 2003.  I guess my work-around is to simply position any object I
am viewing hafway from center to the top, since that does offer a very
symmetrical view.
 
Appreciate your input.
 
Regards,
 
Sanjeev
Mike here: Actually, it doesn't sound too bad; does the image shift as you focus? As to the image bouncing around when focusing, you can get buy or make a focus cable (see the Accessory Reviews - Miscellaneous and Telescope Tech Tips pages).

And:

Yes the star image does shift when I focus in / out.  Have heard that
there is a real difference in quality of views between a "good"
collimation and an "excellent" one, hence my question about whether I
should get some repairs done.  Will this make a real difference in
planetary viewing ?  For example, will I see better detail on Saturn or
Jupiter with better collimation ?  I have ordered a Meade electric
focuser to help stabilize the focusing process.
Thanks for your reply.
Mike here: Collimation definitely makes a difference. If the image shift is excessive then a repair at Meade is likely in order.

And:

Scope is on its way back to Meade second time in its first six months of
use.

Subject: Purchasing an ETX
Date: 12/30/03, 18:02
From: Paul Tadros (ptadros@cogeco.ca)
Firstly, thank you for such an extensive ETX resource.  Your site is
certainly comprehensive!

I am considering purchasing either an ETX90 or an ETX105 (I can't afford
to consider the 125 in the lineup)  The difference between the two units
is approximately $375 (I live in Canada).  I am trying to decide if it
is worth it.  I understand the 105 has a better finder scope, but the
main tube is only 15mm larger than the 90.  I know that the larger the
diameter tube, the more light you let in, thus the more you will see. 
Can you tell me what will the 105 allow me to see that the 90 won't? 
Will the images be nice and sharp?

Also can you advise if the "UHTC" coatings are a good option to go with?

Thanks so much for your help.
 
Paul Tadros
Mike here: Yes, get the UHTC. It adds more light reaching your eye. And if you don't need the extra portability of the ETX-90, go for the -105. You'll get more light, a higher maximum usable magnification, and more resolution.

Subject: Can't focus anything in the sky
Date: 12/30/03, 06:14
From: Bruce Duysen (beduysen@yahoo.com)
Question, hopefully a dumb one...I have a new ETX 105. Assembled
everything, looks beautiful.  However, I can't even bring the moon into
focus; not sure what I'm doing wrong.  The focus won't move far enough
to bring things in clearly--runs out of range.  I've had a telescope
before (OK, a long time ago), but it seems to me that this one isn't
even close to where it should be to focus objects in the sky.  Note that
I am able to focus things at close distance, 20-30 feet.

I see on the Meade website that is says something about new scopes being
shipped with the focus mirror in a retracted position.   Am I able to do
anything about this?  I followed their instructions for turning the
focus knob many times with no effect.  It's like there should be a
coarse-tune knob somewhere.

Ideas?  My only alternative is to return the unit. Thanks for any help.

Bruce
Mike here: Being able to focus close but not far doesn't sound right. But if there is no mechanical problem then you would need to turn the focus knob many turns to change from a focus that close to one at infinity. BUT the solution could be simple: with the telescope pointed upwards (to avoid the focus shaft from slipping inside the tube), loosen the small setscrew on the focus knob and slide it a short ways back along the shaft, then retighten the setscrew. This will allow more focus travel and if you moved it far enough you should be able to focus on the Moon. Use caution and don't slide the knob off the shaft.

And:

Thanks, I'll try that. 

Subject: ETX 125EC New User Problem
Date: 12/30/03, 05:29
From: Pete and Maggie Kasper (pkasper@cfl.rr.com)
I just bought my very first telescope off Ebay.  It's an ETX 125EC and
it appears to be in very good condition.  It did not come with manuals,
however I have been following instructions from the Meade site.  The
problem is I cannot see anything (terrestial) out of the Plossl 26mm
eyepiece.  The only things I can see are thru the viewfinder.  I live
directly on the ocean and for starters I have been trying to zero in on
some cruise ships, etc. thru my sliding glass doors.  All I see is a
very faint distinction of sky and water.  I have tried to look at
telephone poles and buildings, but can't see them either.  I haven't
even started to use the Autostar or celestial viewing yet.  Is there any
hope for me?   Does this sound like a big problem or is there something
simple I'm not doing? I would appreciate any help I can get.  Thanks
Mike here: Pick a land object like a building that is several blocks away. Pick some distinctive item on the building, like a sign. Center it in the finderscope. Then look through the eyepiece; turning the focus knob until you get some portion of the building in focus. Move the telescope around until you get that distinctive object centered in the eyepiece. Then look through the finderscope again; you'll probably see that the two telescopes are not aligned. Using the small screws on the finderscope bracket, reposition the finderscope until the crosshairs are as close as possible to the object while keeping the eyepiece centered on the same object. It is a time-consuming project but necessary. This should help you when trying to sight on other terrestrial objects and then astronomical objects.

Subject: Eyepiece Deal
Date: 12/29/03, 22:25
From: MrEllingson2180@aol.com
How long does the Meade eyepiece deal last for?
Mike here: Until Meade stops it. No other info is available. HOWEVER, it started out as a "30th Anniversary" deal so it could end at the end of 2003...

Subject: Further ETX-90 "ATC" Info...
Date: 12/29/03, 20:15
From: NJ (redwanguy@yahoo.com)
I noticed someone had wondered about the difference in the ATC scopes. I
just bought an ETX-90ATC and these are the differences (applies to
125ATC also).

1. Comes with 9mm MA and 25mm MA instead of the one 26mm Plossl.

2. All the ATC models come with UHTC. ( noted by sticker on ota bottom)

3. Manual refers to UHTC coatings as "EMC Super-Multi Coatings".

4. Best part, sell for around $470.00 complete with #884 and #497
Autostar at most Wal-Mart locations. I got mine for $475 shipped from
ebay, local Walmart was out of stock.

Again, the price seems too good to be true, but I did call Meade and
verifiy its the exact same OTA, Glass, Coatings, Mount etc..as the
ETX-90EC with UHTC!

Subject:
Date: 12/29/03, 18:56
From: Brandon Goodman (bgoodman1@tampabay.rr.com)
My name is Brandon and I am, as you put it, a novice (backyard)
astronomer. I have recently recieved a meade etx-90ec. My problem
though.....it didn't come with a manual. I looked around on the computer
for one but kept running across your site. I put your site on favorites
to give me a chance, later, to read more of the site responses. They
were very exciting especially the ones with pictures, but I did find
your site to have the most qualified techs. I would like to ask you how
I can get a manual for the 90ec with autostar controller. I appreciate
your help and look forward to visiting your site again. Also I hope its
not to much of a problem but if you could possibly send that info to my
E-mail. This is a priority to me and know I'll check my E-mail sooner
than I'll go browsing through the internet

                                    Brandon Goodman
Mike here: Please read the Email Etiquette item on my ETX Site Home Page; your message was originally deleted UNREAD as SPAM due to the missing Subject entry. See the FAQ page on my ETX Site for downloadable manuals.

And:

Thank you so much.  I just downloaded the manual like you instructed. I
can't believe I overlooked that link......hey you came through for me. 
I know it won't be long now for me to fully enjoy what all you guys keep
writting about

                                           B. Goodman

Subject: ETX 125 Help
Date: 12/29/03, 18:37
From: Rose Crawford (rorolani@earthlink.net)
I just got a 125ETX for my Husband.  After my son-in-law does two star
alignment, we have good results on the GOTO.  However, the scope dead
stops when moving west. For example from M45 to M31 the scope dead
stops.

Can the scope move 360 degrees or more?  Is there a setting to make this
occur?

Have a nice New Year.
 
Thanks
 
Rose Crawford
Mike here: It sounds as though you are not doing the required horizontal rotations for the HOME position. Rotate counterclockwise until you reach a hardstop and then back clockwise about 120 degrees to North. Then do the Autostar alignment steps.

And:

Thank you for your quick reply.

My instructions are as follows from my son-in-law:

Place the telescope with the computer control panel facing due west.

Level the tripod.

Level the telescope tube.

Loosen the declination knob and adjust the declination band to 0
degrees. Tigthen the knob.

Verify that the tripod and telescope tube are level.

Loosen the RA clutch knob.

Rotate the telescope counterclockwise until it reaches a hard stop.

Rotate the telescope tube clockwise until the declination knob is over
the computer control panel that is facing due west.

Lock the RA clutch knob but do not overtighten.

Select two star alignment on the handset.

Select the first star, for example Capella.  Then enter and the
telescope moves to Capella.  Center with the handset.  Then enter.

Select the second star, for example Deneb.  Then enter the telescope
moves to Deneb.  Center with the handset.  Then enter.

The handset then says Alignment Successful.  I select M45, and the
telescope lands on M45 and tracks.  When we moved to M31 the scope moved
clockwise and deadstops over the computer control panel and went no
further.  Yet, the telescope would have moved a shorter distance if it
went counterclockwise to reach m31.

These instructions are taken from your etx_tuneup3 document around page
6-8.

We are located in San Diego, Ca.

Again, thanks

The scope has wonderful optics. 
Mike here: Yep, that's it. Also, there are many alignment tips on the Autostar Information page. Does the telescope rotate (by hand) freely through almost two complete rotations, hard stop to hard stop? If not, there is some obstruction, perhaps a wire, that is getting in the way. Don't force or you could cut the wire. Let me know.

And:

Thanks for the after thought.  You may have discovered the issue.  With
the clutch knob loosened, I can only rotate one turn.  The unit is out
of its one year warranty.
Mike here: Well, you have three choices: 1) contact Meade, 2) Contact Dr. Clay Sherrod for his "Supercharge" tune-up service (details on the ETX Site), or try to fix it yourself.

And:

Thanks.  I will search your site for Dr. Sherrod's service.

In the meantime, can you describe the work involved.  I am responsible
for what I decide to do, not you.

You have been a big help!
Mike here: The details of what Dr Clay does are described on the "ETX Tune-up Service" article linked from the ETX Site Home page.

Subject: Choice of Eyepieces
Date: 12/29/03, 17:56
From: Omdurman2@aol.com
What do you recommend as additional eyepieces for the ETX 105? I am
using the 26mm SP eyepiece which came with the scope, as well as a 2x
barlow. Also what do you think of Meade's special offer for new scope
buyers - for $99 you get a set of SP eyepieces ranging from 4mm to 40mm,
a total of 8 all together. Do you think this is a good buy?   Thanks
    TFortune
Mike here: I do recommend the Meade $99 Eyepiece Deal for new qualifying telescope owners.

Subject: Computerized backlash
Date: 12/29/03, 12:23
From: KMerzel@aol.com
I am the proud new owner of  the ETX 125. The scope was purchased
because of its portability. It gets more use than my Newtonian as it is
much easier to set up!!!

There is a (problem?)  that I am having. When I center an object in the
eye piece the computer drive seems to want to lower the image in
declination a bit. Still in the eye piece but not where I centered the
object. You can hear the gears changing the declination ever so
slightly. Is there an inherent error? 

Thank you.

                           Ken   Rochester, NY
Mike here: When you first set it up did you do the CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES? Remember, you have to do the TRAIN DRIVES on both axes.

And:

Thank you for your response. Yes, I did do the calibration. I aimed at a
relatively close object. I will recalibrate using a much further object.
Thanks again for your answer.
Mike here: Yes, do the TRAIN DRIVES on a very distant object.

And:

Thank you again for your response and for the excellent web sight. It
has been a source of much information.
                                        
                                         Ken

Subject: Error on your website, Mike.
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 11:12:38 -0600
From: "Ronald W. Cook" (rwc@cowaro.com)
http://www.weasner.com/etx/menu.html
In September 1996 I purchase
Last updated: 28 December 2003

Everyone knows that every 24 hours there is a day.  That precludes your
placing the year after the day where the hour goes - at least in a
mentally healthy world.

You know there is nothing more fundamental to the human condition than
time.  You were born by it, live by it and will surely die by it.  It is
a sad testimony to that condition that we cannot even write it
correctly.  Don't make the mistake of thinking the problem
insignificant.

If I told you the length of my car was  1 ft. 7 in., 4 yards, you would
think it odd the way I arranged that, but would perhaps not think too
much of it.  If I did it again, you would think me crazy or err in not
doing so.. Well, the obvious correlation is the date and anyone that
thinks the year does not belong before the month is in my opinion -
crazy, that is once they are made aware of their mistake and do not
change.  There are undesirable consequences to doing things the wrong
way.

There are clear advantages to writing the date correctly  yyyy/mm/dd .
You question the use of the word "correctly?"  Well the date comes from
the time, does it not?  Everybody writes time correctly hh:mm:ss, which
being correct, sorts.  If you write the date-time-group (DTG),
mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss, it portrays a mental aberration as does writing
dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm:ss.

The media refuses to budge on the obvious benefit of writing dates
correctly, like the way you count your money, or measure a length by
impressing on its audience illogical date formats.

Please do not use crazily formatted dates in your presentations,
solicitations, etc.  They are degrading to scientists and humanity in
general...


                                             CHRONSENSE

           Would that I would never be,                  The dollars and the sense,
                  a crier of the crime                            a system that's sublime.
     the month the day, and then the year          would tens prevail throughout
                    adjacent to the time.                    we would all have more of time.

             Or militarily would reckon                And this I'd hope we would grant
                  the day month year                        to all the children's health
        were totally backwards to the time              and so to make their future
                 in use by all, I fear.                           a little more with wealth.

      Of feet and inches, I've used so much    But most for the minds of those so full
        as carpenter and machinist stealth                that they just cannot see
          go the way I hope to less avail                    the year month day time
          the sixteenths and the twelfths.                   is the way it ought to be.

                                      2000 Jun 06 03:00L Ronald W. Cook
                                               copying is encouraged.

http://cowaro.com/Date/Endeavour.html
www.cowaro.com/Date/Logical_date.html

Testimonials:
   http://cowaro.com/Date/TheGood.html

I don't trust anyone who knows how the date should be written, but
freely chooses to write it incorrectly. They are dishonest. Do you say
cents, dollars; cm, m; inches, feet? Just  want to bugger up the date,
eh?  It is anti-social, anti-science, you name it.

Illogically formatted date fields should be nowhere on the internet or
e-mail and that being true .....

Abandon the madness.  It is a mass lunacy.

Ron  Cook    www.cowaro.com
Joshua, Texas
Mike here: Thank you for your feedback. There are many acceptable date formats. I happen to use DD MMM YYYY for some and MM/DD/YY for others. Check your operating system "date format" preference (at least the Macintosh OS has several; don't know about Windows).

And:

Only one sequence that is right.  Acceptable?  I would question the
thoughts of those once told who maintain acceptability.  Why would
anyone write a date-time-group with the date going one way, and contrary
to its individual fields, while the time goes the other?  NASA's mindset
problems pale in comparison and look what they cost.
Mike here: Certainly there is a logic in going from the largest unit to the smallest. But I have many other things to occupy my date/time so I tend to not worry about it. Thanks again.

And:

Obviously correctly presenting the date is of less import, but maybe
time is the most important thing that God gives you.  Pity, your
responses do not justify your action, me thinks but who am I to suppose
that you are trying to teach how the date should be presented.  That is
why you do what you do, is it not?  You could just as easily written
them correctly, couldn't you.

Unfortunately those of us who use dates as data must bear the brunt of
the lunacy.  Instead of doing the research we need to do, we must
correct the errors in portrayal of the data first.  Doubtless, our time
is not as valuable.

Ron Cook
2003 December 29 14:57 

Subject: "What do I do once I've set the telescope/tripod in the driveway?"
From: larrysimpson@comcast.net
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 16:20:30 +0000
HELP!!!!!! Ok, so admittedly I am a novice at the astronomy game but, I
think its worse than that.....I got the family a Meade 90EC with
AutoStar for Christmas, read the manual, and have spent too much time in
the driveway trying to get it to work.

I followed the step-by-step instructions in the manual(s)on the AltAz
alignment process, the AutoStar indicates "Alignment Successful" but,
when I slew to the Moon I am 'lightyears' away. I try to manually move
it to the Moon to 'calibrate' but, it doesn't seem to remedy the
situation as the motor kicks in and moves away from the moon in a matter
of moments. While this is probably a painfully basic question I need to
know:

"What do I do once I've set the telescope in the driveway?" How critical
is it to point towards North (magnetic or Polaris?) once its in the
AltAz position (zero degrees Horizontal and vertically turned fork
counterclockwise then back to the computer panel)? What is the orienting
procedure (positioning of the telescope) prior to turning on the
AutoStar to initiate the alignment process?

While this is probably incredibly basic it is the first step I need to
take and would love some help.

Many thanks,

--
Larry Simpson
Lakeville MA
Mike here: Welcome to the ETX Universe! You'll get the hang of it. See the alignment tips on the Autostar Information page. Be certain you have selected the telescope model in the Autostar menu, done a CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES. Check your date/time/location and Daylight Savings settings. Do not use Magnetic North unless you know it is close to True North; use Polaris instead (assuming you can see it) as an indicator of where on horizon True North is.

And:

Thanks so much for the tip.....drives now 'trained', viewscope now
aligned and I think a light bulb has gone off and I was able to see
stars for the first time ok, so I hadn't a clue what I was looking at
but, I think we're getting closer......tonight, we attempt Saturn from a
deck in Chatham MA (Cape Cod) which faces East....wish us luck.

Any guess how well we will see it given the 26ML Plossel, 2XBarlow and
the Number 12 filter? We haven't got the lens set from Meade yet.

Happy hunting,

Larry Simpson 
Mike here: Saturn will look nice but don't expect to see the same quality and details as you see in some of the photos.

Subject: RE: The rings of Saturn
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 11:59:21 +0100
From: "Marcin Bruczkowski" (marcin.bruczkowski@centertel.pl)
Chuck,

from your posting I understand that you use your EYES to view Saturn and
compare that to PHOTOS on Mike's web site - such comparisons will always
be disappointing for the visual observer!  Photos of Saturn on this site
are either long-exposure or stacked from several shots, thus bringing
out details and colours we can only guess at when using that rather
low-sensitivity camera that Nature has equipped us with...

To see more you may want to either invest in a bigger telescope or a
webcam, the latter being a much less costly solution.

With my ETX125 I clearly see the Cassini Division on good days, but not
always, when the seeing (i.e. the atmospheric turbulence) is bad, I
cannot resolve the division.  One trick I learned is not to give up
easily but to look, and look, and look...  Even on nights of bad seeing
the atmosphere has moments of calm every now and then, the eye learns to
lock onto those moments and ignore others.  It's a skill I'm slowly
learning.

I also discovered that when using a digital camera I can capture SOME
sharp images even when the seeing is VERY bad.  I employ Stacker
software to select those sharp images and reject the blurry ones.  This
way I can also use much higher magnifications than would be practical
for visual ovbservation.

Cheers,

Marcin Bruczkowski
marcin@bruczkowski.com

Subject: Re: new etx may be defective, Thanks so very much.
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 03:47:57 -0600
From: tk353@juno.com
Thanks so very much. I got an exchange from the discovery store at the
mall. I saved the 30 day wait and the shipping. Meade wanted me to send
it back to them. The RA rotates about 720 like you said it would. The
Meade rep was wrong and you were right. I guess it could have been a
holiday temp they hired. I have read other stories about the reps at
Meade and it was not nice. Have a great new year.  Tomorrow it will be
clear and cold and dark.

Subject: Re: Many Thanks
From: "P. Clay Sherrod" (drclay@arksky.org)
To: Burt
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2003 17:14:54 -0600
And thanks so much Burt for the update; it was a pleasure working with
you on the scope and I wish you the clearest of skies for 2004!

Clay
--------------------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)
http://www.arksky.org/

  ----- Original Message -----=20
  From: Burt
  Dr. Sherrod,

  I have been wanting to write and thank you for the tremendous job you
  did supercharging my ETX125 in November. Since receiving it back I
  have used it repeatedly and, from the first moment, I have noticed a
  logarithmic improvement in its performance. Your service was more than
  worth its cost and my temporary separation from my favorite toy!

  I will gladly recommend your services to anyone who asks and would
  even be willing to take unsolicited e-mails from inquiring, potential
  customers.

  Sincerely,
  Burt

Subject: The rings of Saturn
From: "Chuck Sowers" (corollacandles@earthlink.net)
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2003 11:49:35 -0500
My ETX 125 is 6 weeks old and I truly enjoy it.  But..... 
When I look at Saturn, I am not seeing much detail.  I can hardly
make out the cassini division.  When I look at the photos on the
site from other users, it makes me wonder if my scope is not functioning
properly.  I have the same problem with Jupiter.

I am using a 2x barlow, and various sized eyepieces, from 26mm on down,
all Meade.  I really don't even get crisp looks at the moon. 
Focusing is very difficult.

Could the scope need to be culminated?  How can I test for
this?  And, if this is the problem, should I send it to Meade for
repair?  If this isn't the problem, do you have other suggestions
or am I just expecting too much from my scope and I should be happy with
the fuzzies?

Thank you so much, you're a real help to all of us!

Chuck Sowers
Mike here: Are you letting the telescope reach "thermal equilibrium" with the outside air when you bring outside to observer? This can take upwards of a couple of hours for the ETX-125. You can "star test" the optics by using the 26mm eyepiece and look at a bright star (like Sirius); slowly turn the focus knob in and out of each side of infocus. You should see "rings of light" when slightly out of focus. These should be essentially circular and centered on each other (once the telescope has cooled down). If there are significant distortions then you telescope (or the eyepiece) may be out of collimation. This is something that Meade should fix (although there are tips on doing it yourself on the Telescope Tech Tips page; but you can make things worse too).

Subject: new etx may be defective
Received: (from tk353@juno.com) 
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2003 12:57:35 -0600
The RA stop seems to be on the wrong side. I dont know if this is a
problem i can fix. I found out when polar aligned the rotation area is
pinting to the ground. I went to your web page and when i set the scope
like the picture the scope faces the ground or if i mount the scope 180
so the control panel is on the other side then it will track the sky
insted of the ground. I am at 30 latitude. Meade was no help. the told
me the RA should rotate about 390 but it seems it rotates about 360 and
i think that is correct. Also they told me i had to send it to them for
repair that would take about a month. If mounting the scope 180 on the
base is ok then i would not want to get it fixed. Thanks fo rthe web
pages and the time.

If i keep interest then i think i am going to add the LDX55 SN-10 next
month to try some photographs.
Mike here: I doubt that there is a problem with the hardstop. The telescope should rotate nearly twice around (almost 720 degrees) not only 390 degrees. If it isn't then some obstruction is there, possibly a wire (which you don't want to cut by forcing the tube to turn. If the telescope doesn't turn nearly twice around in RA then I would suggest contacting the dealer where you purchased it and try to get it exchanged.

Subject: Polar Alignment Problems
From: cliff@cloyd.com
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2003 09:33:06 -0800 (PST)
My wife and I bought an ETX125ec with a 884 tripod for Christmas and
have done some real simple observing of the Moon and Saturn, along with
some views of a few stars. We purchased the lens set from Meade and are
waiting on their arrival. We are wanting to do some photography and some
deep sky observing.  I have been studying Polar alignment and I am
missing something. I have read the tech tips by Dr. Sherrod and I end up
with my scope in a position that does not seem correct. When I am
finished, the OTA is pointing north in a straight line with the fork
arms. The focus knob and the rear camera/viewing port are pointed
directly at the top of the base plate. I get the same position if I
point the OTA straight up in Alt/Az mode, and tilt the plate on the 884
to my latitude. From what I can tell, the only thing that the scope will
do in this position is spin in a clockwise/counterclockwise circle with
no left to right movement at all. The OTA will also move in a downward
direction, but will go no higher that the 35 degree angle of the tripod
head, since the scope is at a 90 degree angle already. There are three
illustrations in Dr. Sherrod's document that really show my problem. In
part three, fig. 3-D1, 3-D2 and fig 3-E. I always finish up at 3-D2 and
never am able to get to 3-E, which is the one that I think I need to be
in. That position seems to allow for a good RA/DEC movement. I apologize
for the length of this message, but I am obviously missing some critical
step in this process. Any help you could provide would be greatly
appreciated. Thanks so much for your help.

Cliff Cloyd
Mike here: I think you are doing it correctly. When you have polar mounted the ETX, the fork arms will point towards the North Celestial Pole (nearly at the star Polaris). But once you have done the alignment (with or without an Autostar) you can now move the telescope tube (not the mount) to view objects in the sky. Yes, you will be limited in how for south in the sky you can view since the tube will reach the ETX base at some point. Using an Alt/Az mounting will let you view the entire sky. With the Autostar you can use Alt/Az and still GOTO and track objects. Plus the telescope is more stable in Alt/Az. There are only a couple of downsides to using Alt/Az: 1) long duration astrophotography will suffer from "field rotation" and 2) both drives have to run to compensate for the Earth's rotation, which may create some extra vibrations in the image.

And:

Is the goal of the process to get the TRIPOD aligned with Polaris? If so
then can I simply return the latitude adjustment on the tripod back to
level and proceed as I normally would? Do I leave the latitude
adjustmnet at 35 deg. and reposition the OTA by realeasing the RA/DEC
locks? When you say I can move the OTA but not the mount, what do you
mean? Currently I can only move the OTA down, toward the horizon line.
It will not go up at all and since the lens end and the drive base are
both pointing north, it just spins in a circle while staying pointed at
the same object. I feel like a total goofball for not understanding this
better. 

Thanks for your help and patience.
Mike here: The goal is to have the TELESCOPE/TRIPOD combination aligned. If the telescope optical tube assembly (OTA) will only go down, rotate the fork arms 180 degrees. But now I think I understand where you are going wrong. It sounds like you WANT to be in Alt/Az mode. If you are using the Autostar you don't NEED to put the telescope/tripod in polar mode to align. Just start with the telescope in the Alt/Az home position: tube (and base) level and the tube pointed toward the North on the horizon. See the Autostar Information page for more on alignments.

Subject: ETX 105 Drive Problem?
From: "Ian Robinson" (idrobinson@idrobinson.karoo.co.uk)
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2003 10:36:06 -0000
Is there obvious reason why a 48 hour old 105 should stop slewing? I
parked it last night, got up this morning and spent an hour or so
getting further getting acquainted with the scope by viewing a view
terrestrial features. I switched it off and on again and started to
perform an align. The scope slewed to a near vertical position [it
didn't go over the vertical or reach the stop], there was one
mechanical click at which point I immediately switched off. On turning
on again there was no slew in either Alt or Az. Despite further
attempts and a reset, there is no response. The Autostar seems to be
working and indicates that the batteries are 85% charged.

Thanks for the great site.

Ian R
Mike here: The rapid slew in altitude typically means low batteries. And 85% isn't that much. Try changing to newer ones.

And:

Thanks very much for your reply. I have now recharged them and there is
still no slew in either direction [or indeed any motor noise at all].

Ian
Mike here: If there is no drive sound when attempting to slew at the fastest speed then something has gone wrong. Since the telescope is new I suggest contacting your dealer.

Subject: Finding objects by entering RA and Dec??
From: "Schlatter" (rosenjoe@charter.net)
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 21:33:58 -0500
Is there a way that I can enter the RA and Declination of an object into
my ETX-90 controller then tell the scope to GOTO that point in the sky?

I have the Ra/Decl of several objects and want to enter the coordinates,
find the objects, then, memorize them as User objects.

Thanks.

----
Joe Schlatter
Mike here: See the FAQ page on my ETX Site.

Subject: re: ETX Sidereal Rate Noise
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2003 10:05:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Don Sutherland (don_sutherland@yahoo.ca)
Martin Lewicki commented that the ETX might have stepper motors rather
than synchronous motors in the drives. In fact, the ETX motors are
garden-variety DC motors made by Mabuchi and are similar to those used
in slot cars and RC toys. The advantage of this system used by Meade,
with an optical encoder and an inexpensive motor, is that just about any
DC motor can be used. Stepper motors are relatively expensive and do not
usually provide any feedback to the control circuit in the event of an
obstruction. Synchronous motors are expensive too and need an AC signal
to synchronize with, so battery operation is out.

I tried a couple of different motors in my Az drive in my quest to
reduce the noise (see Telescope Tech Tips, Modifications, Drive Noise
Fix), but the replacements either were noisier than the original motor
or didn't turn fast enough at maximum slew speed.

The noise problem Martin is having, running at the sidereal rate, many
be due to the loose mounting of the Az drive motor. The motor is driven
by pulses and uses feedback from the optical encoder to control the
speed of the motor. Since the motor is running in fits and starts rather
than at a steady rate, it is likely to make noise if it is loosely
mounted.

My ETX never made much noise when running at the sidereal rate, but it
is quieter since I shimmed the Az drive motor. Now all I hear is a faint
tika tika tika, caused by the pulsed operation of the drive motor. This
noise is readily apparent in a quiet room, but you would be unlikely to
hear it outdoors or where there is a bit of background noise.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

Don Sutherland

Subject: ETX 105/125 Finder Cover
From: "Kim Kimmerle" (khkimmerle@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 21:45:15 -0600
Howdy...the cap from 100 count Dristan and Motrin containers fits the
object= ive end of the finder nicely...also the cap fits the barrel end
of 1.25" eye= piece.  Thought you'd like to know.

Kim Kimmerle   ETC 105

Subject: ETX Power Cable
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 22:33:15 -0500
From: Peter T Tarsnane (petelorr@optonline.net)
Hello, Your site is awesome.Just bought an ETX-125 for my first
telescope and can't say enough about how informative your site is. I
just made a power box to update an Autostar 495 to a 497. From your
sites info I was able to make up the cables and the upgrade was
successful. I saw that Meade sells an ac adapter (1500ma) , I was
curious if I can use a Radio shack 12volt 1500ma power adapter with a
type n to supply power to the telescope and or the powerbox I made? It
seems the RS 12volt 1500ma actually puts out @ 15.4volts. Is this
voltage to high? Thanks for your time and again what a great site.

Peter T Tarsnane
Mike here: Yep, should work. You'll find more info on power supplies on the Telescope Tech Tips page.

And:

Thanks for the quick reply, Do you know what the voltage range for the
autostar and etx125 would be? I am looking for a reference point ,a safe
operating range. What do you think?  Thanks  Pete  Don't want to fry
anything by having to high a voltage.
Mike here: I don't recall seeing any range mentioned but the nominal is about 12VDC.

Subject: Focus Knob
From: "Glenn White" (glennwhite@glennwhite.com)
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 10:57:02 -0800
Similar to Michael I just installed an electric focuser on my ETX-125
and found the included hex wrench didn't work with the focus knob's set
screw.  I grabbed another size wrench (.050") and it worked fine.
 
Glenn White

Subject: Holliday note
From: "Charles and Carol" (chascar@comcast.net)
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 10:32:50 -0500
Mike,

Charles from Boston here again I just forwarded you some correspondence
between Jordan Blessing and I, and I thought you might be interested to
see it.  If it weren't for your sight and my following of it this would
not have happened at all.  I will say to you the same thanks to you and
your as I did Jordan.  You and your sight are a true testament to the
spirit and nature of all those who share a love of the night sky.  I
will not be able to do enough to sing the praises of both you and Jordan
to every amateur astronomer I know.

Subject: re:  ETX90-EC drive noise
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 00:22:13 -0800
From: Richard Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To: mlewicki@ozemail.com.au
The motors in the ETX90-ec are small DC motors
(the simple kind such as drive toy cars, etc)
not steppers.   But at slow speeds they can
"cog", (the poles of the armature are pulled
to the static field poles), which might help
explain the sound.  Normal AC-driven sidereal
drives have the motors moving quite quickly,
with a lot of gear reduction.  The ETX90
has an inherently noisier motor, mounted in
a plastic "sounding board" of a telescope.
Result: noise.

have fun
--dick

Subject: Focus knob
From: Michael DiOrio (mpdiorio@mac.com)
Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2003 14:01:24 -0600
While installing the Meade electric focuser on my ETX 125 I couldn't get
the focus knob off.I called Scopetronix (where I bought the focuser) and
was told that a fellow trying to put on one of their Flexifocus had the
same problem.Mike,at Scopetronix, Gave him the Meade support phone
number and was told by the tech at Meade he could use a screw driver to
pry the knob off without hurting anything.I was a little concerned but
tried it and it worked.They must really push those on and then tighten
the set screw,but the unloosening the set screw died nothing until I
pried the knob off.
Maybe this will help someone else.
Thanks for the great site
Michael DiOrio

Subject: Any difference between the ETX 125 EC and AT?
From: "Casey" (csk47@adelphia.net)
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2003 16:27:54 -0500
All I see advertised is the 125 EC.  Is it a newer model?  I saw where
people several months ago had to be careful of getting an older model
125 as compared to the newer, improved 125.  Is this still a concern now
if  you are buying new? Are all Meade dealers about the same in price or
will some offer discounted prices?  Care to toss out any names???

Thanks for all your help ...and the great site.

Casey
Mike here: See the Announcements - Meade page on the ETX Site for info on the EC vs AT models. Except for sales or bundling, the price is basically fixed. Some good dealers I've dealt with are Shutan, OPT, and Scopetronix. (Disclosure: as can be seen on my LXD55 Site, www.weasner.com, I have a relationship with OPT.)

Subject: Batterie problems
From: "kevin denhert" (kevin.denhert@pandora.be)
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2003 20:32:51 +0100
I just got the ETX90-EC. All work well if I use a power cable, but when
i use it with batteries it won't work. I opened up de bottom plate to
see if the wires were OK and every thing looks fine. If I use a little
powere on the power switch everything powers up, but if i let go of the
switch....again no power.

Very strange because no prblems with powercable.
And i also used new batteries.

Can U help me out here please

Thanks

Kevin
Belgium
Mike here: One possibility is the "battery cutout circuit". When you insert a power cable the batteries are disconnected. You might try inserting and removing the power cable several times to see if any change occurs. Beyond that you should probably contact your dealer for an exchange.

Subject: NexStar 114GT verses meade etx105ec
From: "Ian Baker" (ian@jackaroo.net.au)
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2003 18:46:49 +1100
I am a beginner and want to purchase my first telescope. Being very
confused with it all I feel I have narrowed it down to two scopes the
NexStar 114GT or the Meade etx105ec. What are your thoughts on which way
a beginner should go? Are there any better choices?

Regards

Ian Baker
Mike here: I have no experience with the NexStar GT models so can't comment on that. I have used a NexStar 5 (some years ago) and preferred the Autostar over the NexStar for my purposes. And now with the new Autostar Suite and Lunar Planetary Imager from Meade, the Autostar still seems to be the way to go.

Subject: Polar Aligned 90RA On DS Mount
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 15:14:51 -0800 (PST)
From: kevin keyes (fishonkevin@sbcglobal.net)
I've read all the different methods that people have sent you for
mounting an ETX-90 OTA onto a DS GoTo mount.  I am currently building a
DS mounted 90 myself, and I was wondering if any of readers who have
done this have tried to 'Polar Align' it.

My thinking is that if the modified mount were placed on a wedge and set
in the ETX polar home position, than the 494 Autostar could be fooled
into thinking it is an ETX-70 operating in Polar Mode.

Your thoughts and or suggestions would be helpful.
Kevin
Mike here: That should work just fine.

And:

Thanks for the vote of confidence.  Once I finish the mounting plate,
I'll have to design a wedge.  It'll have to be different due to the DS
RA motor being underneath. I'll also have to figure the center of
gravity.  It is going to be a fun wihter project.

On a different note, I got my vacation approved for the Star Party.  I
hope to meet you in person this spring.
Kevin

Subject: choices
From: tjfloren@comcast.net
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 19:27:31 +0000
Hi Mike,

Still trying to make up my mind here on what to buy.

Now that you've had experience with both the LX and EXT scopes . . .if
you were starting all over again would you still go for the EXTs or just
move right into the LX?  Dollars aren't really my issue, but since I
live in the city, portability may be.  How would you describe the
difference in the visual experience between the two.

Maybe I should just flip a coin and get it over with . . .

Regards,
            Tracy Floren
Mike here: You bet I would still get an ETX, for its size and capabilities. Yes, having the LXD55-8"SC is nice for when I want the larger aperture. BUT the smaller ETX models are very nice to have around!

Subject: ETX-125 Tune-Up Report/Experiences
From: rhenton1@comcast.net
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 17:26:14 +0000
Three years ago, I purchased an ETX-125 for my wife, Cathrine, for
Christmas.   Although optically good, the scope had all the typical
ETX-125 problems: AltAz play, backlash, delays in slewing, etc.  GoTos
were problematical, at best÷ usually the best you could hope for was to
get it somewhere in the vicinity and either do the spiral search or hunt
around until you got lucky.  If you bumped the eyepiece even slightly
with eyeglasses, the image would be lost.  Changing eyepieces meant
starting over from scratch to find the target.  Tracking was poor;
usually objects would be lost from the field of the 26mm eyepiece in 3-5
minutes.  It was a fine example of an instrument that needed less
"inventing" and more "engineering".  Nice idea, poor execution on
Meade's part.

In early December, we sent the scope to Dr. Clay Sherrod for his
"supercharge" service.  Here's our experiences:

1-Preparation: Dr. Sherrod's instructions were clear, specific, and
accurate in the best way to pack the scope for shipment.  His
documentation covered every aspect of what was required, what work would
be performed, and what to expect.  One warning÷ our local shipping
company charged us about $50 just to pack the scope÷ we'd have saved a
lot by buying bubble wrap at Wally-World or Target and packing it
ourselves per his specifications.

2-Communications: Dr. Sherrod responded to all our various email
inquiries and questions quickly, courteously, and professionally.  He
want above-and-beyond to answer all details I asked about shipping,
payment, the status of the work in progress, and so on.  He was a
pleasure to deal with in every respect.

3-Results/Finished Product: This is the big one, of course:

This scope handles like a completely different instrument. AltAz play is
nonexistent - the scope feels more solid in every respect.  Backlash is
gone, as is the frustrating lag-time in slewing.  GoTos are vastly more
accurate÷ our first night's testing nailed 12 out of 12 objects in the
field of the 26mm eyepiece.  The scope slewed accurately from a
predicted object (NGC 869/884 - the "double cluster" in Perseus) to a
calculated object (Saturn) and placed it in the field of the
26mm/2xBarlow combination nicely.  THIS is how the instrument should
have performed out of the box.  We're looking forward to some more
serious observing (as soon as it's just a *little* less windy). Tracking
is also much more accurate, although we haven't had a chance to test it
for long periods yet.

The scope is optically excellent - it was always good - but images seem
(to the eye, at least) clearer and better defined, even under our
terrible urban light pollution.  It was spotlessly clean, and obviously
had been carefully handled.

The included tours we've sampled are very well done, and execute nicely.
 Documentation provided, including additional tours, and the
instructions about handling the scope following the tune-up are detailed
and clear.

It's a rare, rare thing when a service that has so many things that
could go wrong - from shipping to the detailed technical work involved -
leaves you with absolutely *nothing* to complain out.  This was a
fantastic experience from start to finish, and I highly recommend it to
all frustrated ETX owners.  Dr. Sherrod's "supercharge" service really
merits the term.

Thanks to Mike Weasner for hosting the information on his website÷ and
many thanks to Dr. Clay Sherrod for the excellent, meticulous job he did
on our scope.  We look forward to many, many nights of non-frustrating
observing.

--
Ross Henton
rhenton@iname.com

The ideals we uphold during a crisis define who we are.
--Bruce Schneier
And:
From: "P. Clay Sherrod" (drclay@arksky.org)
Wonderful and thank you so much for the report.  This is my early
Christmas present.  Enjoy the scope and I hope you have years of
astronomical wonderment and discovery.....

Clay
--------------------
Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Harvard MPC H41 (Petit Jean Mountain)
Harvard MPC H43 (Conway)
Harvard MPC H44 (Cascade Mt.)
http://www.arksky.org/

Subject: ETX90-EC drive noise
From: "Martin Lewicki" (mlewicki@ozemail.com.au)
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 18:30:25 +1030
Just read Don Sutherland's drive noise complaint. While I can tolerate
the noise when the ETX90-EC is slewing there is still a muffled low
level grinding noise when in sidereal drive. Is this normal?

I took the scope back to the shop (Australia) and in due course they
looked inside. They reported that they fired up another ETX90-EC into
sidereal drive with the same background noise and assumed that it is
characteristic of this scope, therefore "normal". It is past warrantee
now but I've always wondered about this noise. An effect of this drive
noise at higher magnifications is that there is a detectable vibration
in the image.

Martin Lewicki
Mike here: Since the motors are running when tracking is occurring, there will be some sound heard. As to vibrations, check that the telescope is securely attached to the tripod (BUT don't overtighten the bolts, as that can also cause vibration problems). Also, depending upon the tripod you are using, not extending the legs to their full height will reduce vibration problems. Also, adding weight to the tripod or setting the tripod on a soft surface (grass or use "vibration pads") can help.

And:

Thanks Mike for the tips. One reason I raised this issue is that
sidereal drives on many other scopes like SCTs and Newtonians are
virtually inaudible while the ETX90-EC has that muffled grinding sound.
Someone suggested this is a characteristic of stepper motors. So I
assumed that is what drives the ETX90 while the other scopes use quiet
synchronous motors.
Mike here: Yes, there are differences, depending upon design and COST.

Subject: question,meade etx90ec
From: Por924sche@aol.com
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 20:36:21 EST
before i buy your book i have a   question about the scope,im a
beginner,have the tri pod,case lenses,barlows,elec eyepeice,all the
goodies to start,soft ware space 11,all the animated items,,is there
some software that you know about [,since you wrote the book,] that will
let me use the laptop ,for out in the field,and a web cam,to be put in
the viewer eyepiece,that will open my computer screen so i can view the
night skies on the computer screen,focus zoom,red screen,for viewing,,i
was told there was,i used the scope to view the planets and was really
surprised that the scope didnt really didnt bring things in that
close,my mars viewing was ,i thought very poor,i guess i was looking at
the pictures on the box,and cant figure out how they got such good
shots,,will you please let me know,,sorry to talk up your time,but if
your book explains more than the meade factory did when i called
them,ill purchase it  lol thanks mike,,let me
know,,howard,,por924sche@aol.com
Mike here: There are a lot of software programs that will let you control the telescope from a laptop (Mac or Windows). See the Accessory Reviews - Software, Autostar Information, and Astronomy Links pages on the ETX Site. You can also use a webcam or other image devices to see what the telescope is viewing. HOWEVER, image quality may or may not be what you expect. See the Helpful Information - Astrophotography page for lots of info.

Subject: ext 125 ec
From: "Andy O'Grady" (aogrady@jaccendel.k12.in.us)
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 15:14:41 -0500
I am a science teacher at Jac-Cen Del HS In Indiana. We bought a Meade
EXT 125 EC for use in science class The users manual doesn't seem very
helpful- is it just me or.... Also do you have to use Meade's AC
adapter or will any 12v + poled adapter do?

Tx
Andy
Mike here: Yes, the documentation could be improved... And yes, an AC Adapter will work but you will need it to be 1.5A. See the Telescope Tech Tips page for more on power supplies.

Subject: Re:  Etx 90
From: "Gerald Jenny" (gjenn@earthlink.net)
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 17:30:15 -0800
I just guess I did not explain myself the lock stays locked and I can
not release it to set up for viewing the motor works fine it moves so
its locked but there is no way I can unlocke it can you help me. Thanks
Jerry
Mike here: Sorry I misunderstood your problem. The lack of punctuation doesn't help to make things clearer. Anyway, if you can't turn the knob, use something like a rubber glove or a rubber "jar lid opener" to help get a grip on the knob surface.

Subject: rally port-a-power
From: "carltonclark" (carltonclark@bellsouth.net)
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 14:05:50 -0500
looking for a 1-800 number to call about warranty on it.  please email
me back         carltonclark@bellsouth.net

Mike here: All I know is what is posted on the table.

Subject:	Illuminated finder
Sent:	Saturday, December 13, 2003 23:09:02
From:	Lrv64@aol.com
Have you heard of a finder that has illuminated cross hairs?  It would
be very nice if I could see the cross hairs easier, the cross hairs on
the finder of the 125 are great, BUT they would be better if they were
illuminated.....Especially when I am looking for deep sky stuff...

lrv64@aol.com
Mike here: The "1X" type of finderscopes have illumination. The larger ones typically don't. Many users like the "red-dot", Quikfinder, and Telrad finders. See the Accessory Reviews - Finderscopes page for more info. But there are some larger finderscopes that do accept illuminators; see this page on the OPT Site:
http://www.optcorp.com/cart/ProductList.asp?b=8&SearchBy=PR_GroupID&SearchFor=106
Subject:	Etx 90
Sent:	Saturday, December 13, 2003 22:43:13
From:	gjenn@earthlink.net (Gerald Jenny)
I have gone and done it I tightened the alt. to much and now it still
works with the motor but I can not adjust it anymore I looked in the web
sight and could not find any Info on overtightening the Alt. do you have
some wors of wisdom.With out your site I really donot know what we would
do 

Thanks Jerry
Mike here: I presume you are talking about the EC (or AT) model and the not the RA model. Do you mean that the lock won't lock anymore? If so, you need to contact Meade for a replacement of the Right Tube Adapter. It is an easy replacement. See this article (near the end) for photos and a short description: http://www.weasner.com/etx/90ec_comments.html.
Subject:	anti-vibration pads?
Sent:	Saturday, December 13, 2003 12:56:22
From:	corollacandles@earthlink.net (Chuck Sowers)
I live in very windy location.  Most nights the wind speed is 15 to
20 mph.  This makes my ETX 125 shake and jiggle quite a bit. 
Would anti-vibration pads that are sold by Celestron, Meade or Orion
help?  If they do, which brand is best?  Do you have any other
ideas that may help this situation?

Thank you very much,  Chuck Sowers
Mike here: Somewhat. But with those winds I would suggest not extending the tripod legs (assuming you have a tripod with adjustable legs) and adding some weight to the tripod by hanging a brick or something from the center.
Subject:	MEADE ETX 90EC  regarding ETX zoom/barlow combo
Sent:	Thursday, December 11, 2003 19:21:53
From:	caineloccsta@hotmail.com (wqweqwq ewrwew)
I saw your message that you posted on a website. I am new to the
astronmy world, and I had just purchased the MEADE etx90ec and recieved
it today. I'm a high school student, and have little to no knowledge on
telescopes. If you can anwser one question, I would greatly appreciate
it. The problem that I have is that when I look at the moon, it comes
out smaller to my expectation, and I was wondering is there a way of
making the magnification go higher or lower? Where is the button located
to do so if there is one? When I looked at it, it was a full moon, and I
can see some craters on top and thats it. I think I saw jupiter, but it
was half of it, and there apperad to be a hole in it making it look like
half of a broken cd. And its black and white, if u can respond to these
questions, I would GREATLY APPRECIATE it!
Thank You
Mike here: You are making a common user mistake in trying to increase the size of an object by using the focus knob. When in focus the image of a planet will be as small as possible. You can increase the magnification by using a Barlow Lens. Or, since your ETX-90 is new, you might want to consider getting the Meade $99 Eyepiece Deal (details on the Meade website).
Subject:	RE: 1244 Focuser parts
Sent:	Thursday, December 11, 2003 03:56:47
From:	nick@yamaha.co.uk (Nick Howes)
Once again, thank you so much...

You should be Meade, not Meade :0) if you get my drift

Subject:	RE: Odd color shift
Sent:	Wednesday, December 10, 2003 21:44:47
From:	dave.windorski@berbee.com (Windorski, Dave)
Thanks for the reply.  Jupiter was fairly high in the sky at the time I
took the image (about 50 degrees above the horizon).  Do you consider
that high?  I have this color shift with all the planets I've attempted
to image.  I have a picture of Saturn from that same morning which has
the same color shift.  It's alway red on the bottom and blue on the top.
I do see it with my eyeball in the eye piece as well.
 
Thanks,
 
Dave Windorski
Mike here: That's high enough to not experience color dispersion. So, now I would suspect collimation. Have you done a "star test"?
Subject:	ETX-125AT vs ETX-125EC: what's the difference
Sent:	Wednesday, December 10, 2003 18:59:22
From:	jjochen@txcyber.com (John Jochen)
What's the difference between an ETX-125AT and an ETX-125EC?  Does the
EC stand for electronic controls, which all ETX models have.  Are those
that also come with the Autostar Controller called AT?  So, basically
they are the same telescope, just that one has the Autostar Controller
and one does not?

John.
Mike here: See the Announcements - Meade page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	Meade etx-125
Sent:	Wednesday, December 10, 2003 13:00:11
From:	tja8183@yahoo.com (Theo Aranki)
You probably dont remember me, but I had asked a question regarding the
difference between the ET and AT endings on the Meade ETX's. You
directed me to your website, and I never got the chance to properly
thank you for the push in the right direction and the wealth of
information on your site.

I have since purchased the Meade etx-125 and some accesories, including
your very helpful book that is a must have for all beginners.

I have been rewarded with some beautiful nights here in California, and
excellent views.

I am happy to say that I am past the "being overwhelmed" stage and am
slowly learning more and more.

I have never been so excited about a hobby,(that was also started by my
brother about 12 years ago when I was 8), and I just wanted to thank you
for getting us beginners headed out on the right foot.

Thanks
Theo

Subject:	1244 Focuser parts
Sent:	Wednesday, December 10, 2003 09:30:13
From:	nick@yamaha.co.uk (Nick Howes)
Any way you know of getting spare parts for a 1244 focuser. I have
tried Meade UK, but they are bordering on useless, and unhelpful. It is
one plastic cog that has snapped, probably would only cost a few cents
to replace, but Meade UK want to sell me a new 1244...

Warm regards from very cold UK

Nick
Mike here: Contact Telescope Warehouse for spare parts; link on the Astronomy Links page.
Subject:	Odd color shift
Sent:	Tuesday, December 9, 2003 22:09:56
From:	dave.windorski@berbee.com (Windorski, Dave)
I have noticed that when observing planets with my ETX90, there is a red
edge to the bottom and a blue edge to the top of the target.  I've
included an image taken of Jupiter where this can be seen.  This image
is from the EX90 with a Scopetronix MaxView 18mm EP and a Nikon
Coolpix950.  I also can see this with the Meade 26mm EP.  Do you have
any suggestions as to what might cause this?

Thanks in advance,

Dave Windorski

Milwaukee, WI
Jupiter

Mike here: How low in the sky is Jupiter when you are observing? Atmospheric dispersion will cause the color shift at low altitudes.


Subject:	Printing Dr. Sherrod's Guides
Sent:	Tuesday, December 9, 2003 17:44:49
From:	jchamb2@comcast.net (Comcast Mail)
I am an avid student and fan of Dr. Clay Sherrod's observing guides, and
use them as a constant source of information when using my 3 Autostar
driven telescopes (ETX-90,125, and LXD55 SN10).  Over the past couple of
years, I've printed out a few but have not been happy with the results
when printing the html files.

I was considering purchasing software to convert Dr. Sherrods priceless
information to Adobe pdf format, when I discovered an online conversion
utility which produces a nicely formatted pdf version for free!

The URL is: http://www.easysw.com/htmldoc/pdf-o-matic.php

Just type in the URLs of the guides (from either Mike Weasner's ETX site
or Dr. Sherrod's Arksky.org), and it quickly converts the html format
into a handy Adobe pdf format.  I find this very handy for printing a
copy of these works for reading on those cloudy evenings, or reading
them with Adobe Reader on my notebook computer.

(and thanks again for these wonderful guides!)
Mike here: Mac OS X users don't need to use this URL since they can print to a PDF natively from the OS. But it is nice for Windows users who don't have the full Adobe Acrobat application.
Subject:	How to fix a sighter scope
Sent:	Tuesday, December 9, 2003 13:54:54
From:	klaussilberbauer@hotmail.com (Klaus Silberbauer Andersen)
I wonder if you or someone else could help me with this one:

During my first observation a very cold night (-6 celsius) I wanted to
focus the sighter scope on my ETX 105. As I tried to turn the focus ring
the top of the sighter scope (down to the cross hairs) came off. It
seems that the just glue couldn't stand the cold.

What kind of glue would you recommend for reattaching the top of sighter
scope?

Best regards and thanks,
Klaus Silberbauer, Copenhagen
Mike here: Ouch. You might want to contact your dealer for a replacement. It shouldn't break under normal usage. As to glue, I don't know what it is called but you need to use a glue that won't "outgas" and leave a residue on the optics.
Subject:	ETX Autostar and GPS
Sent:	Tuesday, December 9, 2003 03:45:11
From:	melrichman@comcast.net (Mel Richman)
Is there any way that I can use my Garmin etrex Vist gps with my
ETX125AT.  Are there any sites that I can get info on the hookup ?
Thanks,
Mel
Mike here: See the article "GPS for Autostar #495/497" on the Autostar Information page.
Subject:	Re: EXT-125 AT as a terrestial scope
Sent:	Monday, December 8, 2003 15:57:26
From:	tjfloren@comcast.net (Tracy)
So it sounds like it will work (sorta) both ways:

1.  Buy a decent astronomical scope and also use it for
spotting/birdding. (EXT 125)

2.  Buy a decent spotting/birdding scope and also use it for
astronomical  (Pronto)

I think I'd be ahead with the EXT if I could live with the field of
view.  Does the EXT have to be aimed with the electronic controls
or can you unlock RA and DEC and move it around by hand?

Best regards,
Mike here: You can slew by hand.
Subject:	noises?
Sent:	Monday, December 8, 2003 14:11:53
From:	markck01@12move.nl (Kelleher)
I have been using my ETX-105 for a few months now and am very happy with
it. However, I am new to telescopes with this degree of sophistication
and keep finding things that worry me.

I have a couple of concerns I hope you can ease for me:

1. I do not want to over tighten the locks on each of the two axis.
However, I am also worried that I might do damage if I run the motors
without the locks being tight enough. Is it possible to do damage this
way or do the "clutches" simply slip without harm if the locks are not
tight enough please?

2. When slewing both motors make noise. This is not a problem in itself.
The vertical motor makes the higher pitch sound. However, the horizontal
motor make a different sound when it runs in opposite directions.
Turning anti-clockwise it sounds similar to the vertical motor. However,
turning clockwise it makes a slightly deeper sound with a lower
frequency whirring noise as well. The motors all still seem to work OK -
am I worrying about nothing please?

Thanks for your patience and help...
Mike here: If the axis locks are not tight enough, slippage will occur. Under normal usage this should not cause any damage. You'll detect the looseness right away and so correct the problem before anything bad should occur. I don't think you need worry about the different sounds when slewing. The load on the motors can change with telescope orientation.

And:

Many thanks for the feedback - I feel happier now!

Subject:	Re: Re: Comparison views of Mars question
Sent:	Monday, December 8, 2003 10:21:17
From:	csk47@adelphia.net (Casey)
Thanks very much for your advice, Mike.  I think I will soon be the
owner of an ETX 125.
Casey

Subject:	Motor Unit Fault on ETX 125 - EYEPIECE WEIGHT ?
Sent:	Monday, December 8, 2003 06:58:23
From:	sjoshi@gsb.uchicago.edu (GSB)
Love your site.  I ran into a "motor unit fault" a couple of times late
last night with my ETX-125.  Scope had been running for nearly 2.5 Hours
on a cold night.  Wondering if this could be a result of eyepiece weight
- I just tried slewing the scope slightly when I had a compact 13 mm
Nagler with a 2 X barlow.  The view is truly outstanding, I am tempted
to buy a 9 mm, but wondering if eyepiece weight will be an issue.  Any
experiences or thoughts ?

Sanjeev Joshi
Mike here: Probably NOT the weight but could be due to low temps reducing battery efficiency.

And:

Thank you for the reply.  Just confirmed your point by running the scope
at home with an AC Adapter for several hours  - no problems what so
ever.

Regards,

Sanjeev
And a similar low temperature report:
Subject:	Autostar haywire
Sent:	Tuesday, December 9, 2003 13:49:14
From:	klaussilberbauer@hotmail.com (Klaus Silberbauer Andersen)
The first night out with my ETX 105 my Autostar went bananas. Twice it
started slewing the scope upwards without me touching the hand control
at all. It was cold (-6 Celsius and windy), and I thought that it was
the cold getting to the electronics. But today I set up the 'scope
indoors to show it to a friend, and the Autostar did exactly the same
thing: Suddenly slewing at speed 9 upwards and a little to the side. Had
to reboot the Autostar to make it stop.

How come? (Firmware is 26E).

(Besides that: That night I saw Saturn for the first time. Even with the
26mm EP it's truly amazing.)

Best regards,
Klaus Silberbauer, Copenhagen.
Mike here: Yep, that first view of Saturn through a telescope is really nice! Couple of possible reasons for your slewing problem: Did you CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES first? Low battery power (and COLD batteries) will create this problem. Try using AC power (if you have that necessary adapter) or fresh batteries. But keep in mind that really low temps reduce the efficiency of batteries.
Subject:	re: ETX 125 shipped faulty
Sent:	Sunday, December 7, 2003 18:03:53
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	justin@jerzak.com
Although you should send it back for repair,
small flakes on the corrector lens will -not- affect normal observing.
So i would use the telescope for a few days (watch for Jupiter's moons,
if you can stay up that late (or get up that early))

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Comparison views of Mars question
Sent:	Sunday, December 7, 2003 07:39:23
From:	csk47@adelphia.net (Casey)
Thank you so much for the comparison views of Mars through the four
telescopes at various powers.  I have been searching everywhere to find
such a comparison because I am looking to purchase a telescope soon and
the ETX 125 was my early choice.  I can buy a used ETX 125 through an ad
in Astromart from a very reputable person but I wanted to know just what
I could expect to see in the eyepiece.  I have seen so many enhanced and
enlarged digital photos but I will just be an observer through the
eyepiece.  I especially enjoyed the comparison of the ETX 125 with the
Barlow with the 8" LXD.  To me they appear almost the same.

I just wonder how much improvement (if any) could be had if you had
taken shots that evening with a 10" dob?  Could you estimate for me?  I
really didn't consider a dob too much because of its bulkiness and
weight and I really wanted the goto which came with the ETX 125 I saw in
the ad at Astromart.  A new 10" dob is at the max of what I would pay. 
In your opinion would I be gaining a lot in eyepiece viewing with the
dob as compared to the ETX 125?  I know that you can add goto to dobs
now.  I am afraid I am suffering from informational overload.  I want
the best bag for the buck and I know aperature is king but if the
planetary views and deep space views are just slightly less with the ETX
125 over the 10" dob I would go with the ETX because of compactness,
weight, goto, ease of transport (I would likely take the scope 1/4 mile
from my home to a dark softball field..I live in Port St. Lucie,
FL..otherwise each neighbor has a yard light on the driveway but no 20'
high street lights..so viewing in my backyard is okay but the softball
field is better...I am rambling again)

Can you point out some of the advantages and disadvantages of the dob as
compared to the ETX 125.

Your site has helped me so much...I am truly grateful.  Any help you can
give me is greatly appreciated.

Casey Krakowiecki
Mike here: Keep in mind that telescope focal length is a deciding factor on the size of an object for a given eyepiece. Since the ETX-125 is 1900mm and the LXD55-8"SC is 2000mm you won't see much difference in object size. That's why those two photos look similar. The same will apply to a Dobsonian telescope. The aperture size affects image brightness and resolution.

And:

So that I understand correctly, I was just looking at a 10" dob with a
focal length of 1255mm.  You are saying that the Mars, for example, will
appear brighter and sharper with the dob but will actually look smaller
in the eyepiece  than the ETX-125 with a focal length of 1900mm?  Please
pardon my ignorance as I try to learn.
Mike here: That is almost the same focal length as the ETX-90. Size of the object depends upon the magnification. See the FAQ page for info on how to calculate magnification for any telescope-eyepiece combination. HOWEVER, in this case, size isn't everything. Sometimes you want aperture and sometimes you want focal length; depends upon your purpose.
Subject:	ETX-125EC VS LXD55 5" Refractor.......decisions, decisions.......
Sent:	Friday, December 5, 2003 22:01:52
From:	redwanguy@yahoo.com (NJ)
First, as many have done so in the past, I want thank you very much for
being kind enough to operate such a great site!

Am I the only who thinks the $700 lxd55 5" is a super vaue and besides
being less portable, beats the etx-125 in every single way? Ive read the
color problem is very small in the lxd55 and that the mount is
smooth...unlike the etx-125 mount which is so damn jittery. I actually
just recieved my etx125, so i speak from observation. now im thinking
maybe i should have gone with the lxd55 and saved some money? if you had
to choose, not taking size into account, would you not go for the lxd55
refrator instead?

thanks!
Mike here: Certainly the f/9 5" refractor is a nice instrument on a GEM mount. Which telescope a particular user should get depends upon HOW they plan to use it and what their expectations are. But the 5" refractor is a shorter focal lenght than the ETX-125, which may matter to some. On the other hand, the f/ratio difference may be important to others. And size IS important to some and should be taken into a account. Personally, I'd still go for the ETX in your comparison. Feel free to visit my LXD55 Site; there is a feedback section there for the LXD55 refractors.
Subject:	ETX 125 shipped faulty
Sent:	Thursday, December 4, 2003 15:43:53
From:	justin@jerzak.com (Justin Jerzak)
I just received my eagerly awaited ETX 125 and accessories from OPT. 
It's my first scope, and I must have hit refresh 3 or 4 thousand times
on the UPS tracking page waiting for my scope to get from CA to NY...
over Thanksgiving holiday to make things worse.

The shipment arrived at 9:00PM last night.  I knew if I opened it last
night I would never have gone to sleep, so I waited until I got home
from work today to have a look.

Other than getting the wrong flexi-focus, all looked in order...UNTIL I
unscrewed the dust cap, and inspected the main lens.  Forgive my
ignorance as far as describing the parts.  There appear to be what can
only be described as anti-flakes on the coating.  There are 10-12 tiny
specs where it looks like the coating has flaked off.  The largest is no
bigger than the head of a pin.  I don't know if this is a result of
ground shipping from coast to coast or what.   I called OPT and they
said it would be quickest to send it back to Meade for repair.

I called Meade and have a return number, so now after waiting 10
torturous days for the delivery of the scope, I now have to send it off
for another 3-4 weeks for repair!  I guess now the wait for the Meade
eyepiece set won't be so hard, but MAN what a disappointment!

Before I send it back, is there any reason that I should not at least
take it out and have a look at some objects of interest?  I just think I
will be violently ill whilst shipping the scope off without so much as a
peek at the heavens.

I was just too frustrated to keep this all to myself, so I figured, why
not vent in the direction of the best ETX site in the galaxy.  Thanks
for listening.

Regards,
Justin Jerzak
Mike here: Just curious, how did you illuminate the corrector lens (assuming that's where the "flakes" were)? And, no, there should be no reason to NOT use it. Just keep all the packing materials and note how it all goes back into the box.

And:

I had it setup on the tripod in my dining room when I noticed the
problem with corrector lens it was pointed in the direction of some
incandescant lighting.  I wish I had a digital camera I could snap a
picture and show you.  The 'specs' are right above the shiny center
circle which I am sure is the technical name for it.  After inspection,
I gave it a few quick puffs with a can of air, and they didn't budge.

Thanks for the input.
Mike here: As long as you didn't shine a flashlight directly into the tube then what you are seeing is likely real.

And some additional:

I took my new scope out for a try.  The sky was filled with thin low
level clouds, and it is 26 deg out here in Upstate NY.  I didn't align
it or even power it for than matter, just wanted to take a quick peek
before I send it back.

I found what I think would have been Orion and looked around.  I saw
some illuminated areas behind stars, so that was cool.  Then cloud cover
took that area away from me quickly.  I scanned around and picked the
brightest object other than the moon, and centered my cross hairs on it.
 I switched to the 26mm and gave the focus knob a tweak.  I actually
lost my breath for a second as I realized I was staring at Saturn for
the first time!  What a sight!  It was only at 73x but it was quite a
sight nonetheless.  I checked the sky a few times and realized that I
was seeing this great view through what I had considered significant
cloud cover.  I guess I have a lot to learn, but I look forward to it.

I had my fianc take a peek, and she was really moved by it.  She
actually had tears in her eyes as she came to terms with the fact that
she was staring at a planet from our back yard.

FYI - I couldn't tell if the flecks on the corrector lens had any
noticeable effect.  I actually could have cared less on this night.  I
am dreading having to return my scope, but am sure glad I listened to
you and took it out for a spin.

Best regards,
Justin
Mike here: yes, that first look at Saturn is a memorable event! Glad you both got to see it.
Subject:	884 Tripod
Sent:	Thursday, December 4, 2003 08:57:08
From:	Kevin.Boudreaux@ENRON.com (Boudreaux, Kevin)
I panned through the Tripod section on your website and found a couple
of solutions for my problem. Unfortunately, they all involve money that
I really do not want to spend on a somewhat simplistic issue in my
opinion. The bolts that screw into the base of the ETX 125 on the 884
Tripod each have a spring, washer, and retainer clip. The problem is
that each time I unscrew the base after an observing session the
retainer clips pops off. I have lost both through this annoyance and
know have to place the washers each time I screw on the base. I wanted
your opinion before I make a trip to the local hardware.
Thanks. 

Kevin Boudreaux
Mike here: I don't have the #884 but rubberbands might help keep things inplace.

And:

Not a bad idea. Thanks.
Do you expect any reviews soon by Dick or anyone else on the 12/2
autostar update revision? I would like a few opinions, as suggested by
Clay, before I update. I don't seem to have the problems discussed with
my current 30e version.
Thanks.

Subject:	Thanks a million 
Sent:	Wednesday, December 3, 2003 07:48:45
From:	coyote77@telus.net (Dennis)
Thanks to you and your great ETX website. I emailed you with regards to
flip mirror problems and you steered me in the right direction. I fixed
it myself and saved myself 100 or more US dollars which is 1000
canadian. Just kidding. Thanks a million ,may the sky be clear when you
need it to be.      

Dennis Cumberland
Fort St. James B.C.
Canada                      

Subject:	Suggestion to guy with NIMH Battery Problem
Sent:	Wednesday, December 3, 2003 00:29:29
From:	redwanguy@yahoo.com (NJ)
Regarding post in "General ETX" page,
 
Subject:	a problem
Sent:	Thursday, November 6, 2003 08:45:48
From:	e_brentnall@hotmail.com (Ed Brentnall)

Be sure to use a quality charger with -dv, overcharge, etc.. protection.
Also, battery brands DO make a difference. Buy brands such as Panasonic,
Sony, Digipower, Lenmar or GP.  I use a Vanson V-1000 charger which I
paid over $30 for. It even has a damaged battery indicator: Found one
here for 14.95:
 
www.batteryspace.com/product.asp?0=208&1=311&3=189

Subject:	Meade 541 Power Adapter Question
Sent:	Tuesday, December 2, 2003 09:11:46
From:	here_in_nj@yahoo.com (one goodguy)
I am finding conflicting information concerning the power adapter for my
ETX-90. I know there are 2 cords, the #607 which plugs into the
cigarette lighter and the #541 which plugs into a house receptacle. Some
web sites show the 541 as a single unit, no "cigarette lighter"
receptacle attached. Some sites show the #541 as a 2-part kit, the 607
PLUS an adapter which allows you to use house current.

But the problems lies herein. Certain dealers are selling the "2 piece
kit" for $35 - $50. Some places are selling them separately. The 607 for
about $22 and the adapter which allows you to plug the 607 into house
current for an additional $50. What I'm asking is, Is the #541 simply an
adapter to plug the 607 into? or is it a kit? or is it a single unit
that goes from house current directly into the scope?

I will most likely make my purchase from Scopetronix which specifically
tells you its a 2 piece set but there seems to be a lot of confusion and
varying views between certain retailers of Meade products.

Thanks for your help and information

Terence, New Jersey
Mike here: Here is the description from the OPT Site:

Meade #541 AC Adapter
#541 - Powers LX10, LX50 and LX90, Pictor 201XT, 208XT, and 216XT, also ETX-90EC, ETX-105EC, ETX-125EC and D/S Series scopes from 115v. AC. Includes the #607 25-ft. DC power cord.
Price $49.95"

The one I have included both pieces.


Subject:	ETX 90EC
Sent:	Tuesday, December 2, 2003 01:26:57
From:	titus@slt.lk (Joe De Livera)
I have just taken delivery of an ETX90EC telescope which was purchased
from the Discovery Store in Columbus OH  and brought to Sri Lanka where
I live,  by my son.

This telescope comes standard with a 26mm eyepice which gives a
magnification of only 48X.  I intend getting the complete lens kit at
$99.95 and would appreciate your advice whether I should also get the
Barlow 2X lens  with this set of lenses.

J. T. De Livera

TITUS STORES (Pvt) Ltd.
Sri Lanka
Mike here: With the complete set of eyepieces in the $99 deal there is very little need for a Barlow Lens.
Subject:	Which H-Alpha filter to buy?
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2003 22:46:31
From:	carlcohen@optonline.net (carl cohen)
I have a new ETX 125EC and enjoying it.  Tonight I just saw Saturn and
marveled at the view.  I am interested in buying a H-Alpha lens for
viewing the sun and its prominence.  On the web I found both Thousand
Oaks and Coronado sells them.  Is there any comparisons or reviews that
I can read to make my decision what to buy.  Thousand Oaks is about $819
but it is 1.5 A while Coronado SolarMax40 is at least $1265 at .7A. 
Does the lower Angstrom make a big difference?  Is it worth paying
double the money?   Are there any pictures showing what I can really see
through the eye piece?

Also Astronomics.com during a telephone conversation mentioned that
Coronado is going to be coming out in the spring 2004 with a low end sun
scope for around $500.  Do you know anything about it?

Thank You, 
Carl Cohen
Mike here: There are adapters for the ETX-125 for the Coronado SolarMax filter set but the -125 is really too long a focal length to be effective. The ETX-90 is almost too long also; the ETX-70 is just right and then the price is pretty good. I've looked through telescopes with the Coronado H-alpha filters; nice! I have no experience with the Thousand Oaks H-alpha although I do have their white light solar filter. See the Accessory Reviews - Filters page for more on these filters.
Subject:	Mars
Sent:	Tuesday, December 2, 2003 02:34:13
From:	redwanguy@yahoo.com (NJ)
Quick question, im new to all this astronomy stuff, but its facinating.
I got the below quote from a web site.

"Next Opposition At the next opposition of Mars (November 2005), the
"red planet" will appear only 79 percent as large as in 2003"

Does those mean that if the telescope one uses in 2005 is 21% larger,
and applies 21% more magnification, then one will see mars as it was in
2003? i know this year it was 34 mil miles away and 2005 will be 43.
 
thanks!
Mike here: It's too earlier in the morning to do the exact math but with a higher magnification, an object will appear larger than it was with a smaller magnification. A larger aperture will let you see more details (it is providing higher resolution). So, yes, you can somewhat compensate for the increase in distance.
Subject:	In reference to ETX upgrade question copied below ...
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2003 21:24:12
From:	rgrinnel@bellsouth.net (Robert Grinnell)

>Subject:	ETX 125 tube assembly
>Sent:	Wednesday, November 26, 2003 13:05:57
>From:	cgiff@dsl.pipex.com (C Giffard)
>I wonder if you can help me. Although I know nothing about telescopes,
>my husband is an avid amateur astronomer currently using an ETX 90EC. I
>know he would like to upgrade to a 125, and  I have recently seen
>advertised for sale an ETX 125 tube assembly only. Would it be feasible
>to buy that assembly and then purchase the other parts seperately to
>make up a a working 125EC? If so, what would else would I need to
>consider? He's highly technical,and if it's possible to do he'll be able
>to put it all together. Any advice appreciated.
>Many thanks
>Liz

A wife that actually wants to upgrade her hubby's telescope? Where is
she from and does she have any sisters??  Oh, that's right, I'm already
married.
			ETX125 owner (but an LX90 would be nice)
							Robert

Subject:	re: Autostar 26Fd & poor eye relief eyepiece
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2003 18:19:21
From:	ERenger@harlandfs.com (Eric Renger)
To:	averschuere@tiscali.be
Alain,

I saw your post on Mike Weasner's site, and I have a few comments
regarding eye relief. I had exactly the same experience you had. The
eyepiece supplied with the ETX-125 does not work well with glasses, and
I must wear my glasses in order to be able to see.

To solve that problem I have purchased a set of Celestron X-Cel ED
eyepieces. These eyepieces all have 20mm of eye relief, and they have
made it possible for me to enjoy the telescope. There are other brands
that also manufacture lines of eyepieces designed for long eye relief:
TeleVue has the Radians, and Pentax and Vixen make some long eye relief
eyepieces. I have not had a chance to try any of those other brands, so
I cannot comment on their quality. However, there is a huge difference
in price between the different brands. The Celestrons I purchased cost
$65 each. I believe the Vixens were about $120 each, and the dealer that
sold me mine said I would not notice a difference in quality between
these two brands. The Radians and the Pentaxes were both far out of my
price range, above $200 -$300 each.

There are some issues with using the long eye relief eyepieces:

The Celestron eyepieces are physically long. That isn't really a
problem, but if you want to use a Barlow, it makes for a long
combination, and a lot of glass elements.

Also, because the long eye relief forces you to keep your eye 20mm from
the eyepiece, it can take some practice to find the exit pupil and to
hold your eye in exactly the right position. With a standard eyepiece,
you can't get close enough to the lens to see the whole FOV when wearing
glasses, but with the long eye relief eyepiece it is possible to get too
close. When you get too close, the FOV begins to shrink again, and you
can also get some "blackout" areas inside the field of view. This
problem is worse with higher magnification and smaller exit pupils.
Really, it is not a big problem --- it just takes some practice, but it
can be confusing if you don't know what is happening. When you learn how
to hold your eye at the right position you can easily see the entire FOV
with no "blackouts." I understand that the Radian eyepieces have a
click-stop mechanism that helps you to precisely adjust the distance
that your eye is from the eyepiece when your glasses are touching the
rubber guard, and they also have something called a pupil guide that
helps you find the exit pupil. I have not used those eyepieces and the
Celestrons do not have those features.

I purchased the 25mm, 12.5mm and 8mm focal lengths. The 25mm makes a
very nice replacement for the standard 26mm. The 12.5mm is what I often
use when looking at the moon or at planets, but if you have a 2x Barlow,
you might not need that one. I find that the seeing conditions in my
area make it hard to use the 8mm on most nights. I have used it to look
at the moon and have tried it on Mars and Saturn, but for most
applications it is too much power for the local conditions, and there is
a significant loss in resolution and contrast. There are some even
shorter focal length eyepieces in the X-Cel line, which are almost
certainly unusable with the ETX-125. There is a 10mm, which I am
considering buying. There are also some in between the 25mm and the
12.5mm. The 25mm is the longest focal length.

I am very happy I purchased these eyepieces. They have made it possible
for me to comfortably use the telescope and really enjoy it. I would
recommend investing in at least one long-relief eyepiece so that you can
see how comfortable it is with glasses. Personally, I would be curious
to try some of the other brands and see how they compare to the Celstron
X-Cel EDs. I do not have enough experience with other equipment to know
how they compare with regards to contrast, brightness, clarity, etc.

I hope this information is helpful to you. When I was trying to decide
what eyepieces to buy for long eye relief, I posted several questions to
Mike's site. He gave me good advice, and several other people
volunteered helpful information. I think those posts are still out
there, so you might want to search the site for them.

Eric  

And:

From:	averschuere@tiscali.be (alain verschuere)
Thank you very much for this helpfull answer. Another question comes up
now. I've read somewhere that the supplied eyepiece (SP 26 4000 series)
has an eyerelief of 18 mm. Is this correct? Is there such a big
difference between 18 and 20 mm eye relief? Because with the 26 i've to
put my glasses almost in the eyepiece (as a manner of speaking) to see
almost the whole FOV. Or has the fact that the supplied eyepiece is 6 mm
shorter than the regular 4000 SP 26 something to do with this
difference. I'm also not sure what you mean by  "to find the exit
pupil".
Thank you in advance for your reply,
Regards
Alain
And:
I made the same assumption when I bought the telescope. I thought that
18mm of eye relief would mean that I would be able to use it with my
glasses. But as we both found out, that is not the case. The reason is
that there can be a big difference between the technically-correct
measurement for eye relief and the actual usable eye relief for eyeglass
wearers.

From what I understand, eye relief is technically measured from the rear
lens of the eyepiece to the eye. So the 18mm of eye relief for the 26mm
eyepiece that comes with the telescope might be technically correct.
However, the rear lens of the eyepiece is actually deep inside the metal
housing of the eyepiece. I have never measured it, but it must be at
least 10mm or more inside the metal housing, which means you really have
less than 8mm of "usable" eye relief. I don't really know why the
eyepiece is designed that way, and I don't know if it has to do with the
eyepiece being 6mm shorter than the regular eyepiece. It may be that the
designers made it so that if you are not wearing glasses and you rest
your eye socket against the rubber eyecup, the housing holds your eye in
exactly the right position. Whatever the reason for the design, if you
wear glasses you cannot get close enough because your glasses rest
against the housing and your eye is more than 18mm from the lens. The
eyepieces that are specifically designed as long eye relief eyepieces
for eyeglass wearers have the lens right at the end of the housing so
that they have 20mm of usable eye relief. Your glasses can get as close
as they need to get to the lens, allowing your eye to get within 20mm of
the lens. Some dealers will tell you what the usable eye relief is for
an eyepiece in addition to what the technically-correct eye relief is.
By the way, technically-correct eye relief is useful even if you do not
wear glasses and do not need usable eye relief, because having some
distance between your eye and the lens means that your eyelashes do not
brush the lens. That is true even if all the eye relief is down inside
the housing.

The exit pupil is the small circle where all the light is going to exit
the eyepiece. The size is calculated by dividing the objective aperture
by the magnification. So if the 26mm eyepiece gives 73x, and the
objective is 125mm, then the pupil is 125 / 73 = 1.71mm. All the light
comes out of the telescope in a circle 1.71mm in diameter, and your eye
has to be positioned so that the light goes into your eye just right.
The exit pupil gets smaller as the magnification goes up so that the
maximum magnification gives an exit pupil of about .5mm, which is very
small, and it gets harder to position your eye in exactly the right
spot. Finding the exit pupil has to do with lining up on it left and
right, up and down, and also forward and back. If you are too far back,
then you do not see the whole field of view through the tiny circle of
light. But if you get too close, it also makes the field of view shrink,
and I do not know why this is. If the eye relief is very long, then it
is very easy to get too close and have the field of view shrink.
Standard eyepieces usually don't allow you to get too close, so you
never experience this, and when you experience it for the first time
with a long eye relief eyepiece, it is confusing. Some people find it
uncomfortable to hold their head away from the eyepiece, rather than
rest against the eyecup, and non-glasses wearers might not like your
long eye relief eyepieces. The Radian eyepieces that I mentioned have
the click-stop eye guard that allows you to set an exact amount of
usable eye relief, so glasses wearers and non-glasses wearers can both
adjust the distance individually and rest against the eye guard and be
positioned correctly. I have never had a chance to use a Radian and try
that feature, but it sounds very nice.

One interesting thing to do is to focus your telescope on a big object
that fills the field of view, like the moon at high magnification. Then
hold your head back from the telescope several feet away, and stare
directly into the tiny little exit pupil. It's just a tiny speck of
light, and you can't see any detail inside of it. Then keep staring into
the exit pupil and very slowly move in closer and closer. The speck gets
bigger. As you get closer, the speck gets big enough so that at some
point you will be able to see some kind of small feature inside the tiny
circle of light, like maybe a crater. Slowly keep moving closer and
watch as the field of view gets bigger and bigger and more details come
into view. Eventually you will be close enough that the entire field of
view is visible. That means that you are now close enough to the exit
pupil so that the tiny .5mm circle of light fills your entire field of
view. All of the detail that you see is coming through that .5mm circle
and your eye is so close to it that it looks enormous. It's a weird
thing to think about.

I hope this explanation helps.

Eric   
And more:
I have one more thought on the eye relief subject.

Eye relief is generally longer for longer focal length eyepieces and is
shorter for shorter focal length eyepieces. So sometimes an eyeglass
wearer can use a long focal length eyepiece, but cannot use a short
focal length eyepiece in the same manufacturer's product line. However,
the eye relief for an eyepiece remains the same regardless of whether
you use a Barlow or not. In one of the eyepiece reviews on Mike's ETX
site, I remember seeing a post by someone who wears glasses and uses a
40mm eyepiece that has a lot of eye relief. Instead of using shorter
focal length eyepieces for high magnification, he has a collection of
different Barlow lenses that let him get different magnifications from
the same eyepiece. I thought that was an interesting solution to the
problem.

Eric
Mike here: Yes, using a Barlow Lens can help somewhat.

And:

Well, thanks a lot for such an "in depth" explanation. These are very
helpfull comments.

I'll look if i can find and try some of these eyepieces you recommended
(Belgium is small and the amount of shops is similar).

And like we're used to, already 7 days of fully clouded heavens.
alain
And:
You are welcome. I am actually surprised at how much I had to say on the
subject too. But I really sympathize with the problem of trying to wear
glasses and use the telescope. I have only had my telescope a couple of
months, and I was very disappointed when I had so much difficulty using
it early on. But now that I have solved the problem for myself I was
excited to be able to share the information with someone else who was
having the same problem.

I purchased my eyepieces from OPT at http://www.optcorp.com . I do not
know what is involved with ordering internationally from an American
dealer, but you might want to contact them. They had good information
and were very helpful in deciding which eyepieces to buy.

Also, Astronomics at http://www.astronomics.com had good information
about eye relief, and they list the actual usable eye relief for
eyepieces, as opposed to the technically-correct eye relief. They were
very prompt and thorough in answering questions via email.

Good luck,

Eric  

Subject:	Please add this to your astronomy links page, Mike
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2003 16:15:49
From:	davidwallace2000@comcast.net (david)
http://wa1gsf.home.comcast.net/astronomy_blog.html

I call it "Dave Wallace's Adventures in Astronomy".

Clear skies!

==========================================================
To err is human.  To *really* err requires a C++ compiler.
==========================================================

Subject:	Smoking ETX90EC
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2003 13:37:28
From:	gary.lewis@dynetics.com (Gary Lewis)
I recently bought the ETX90EC with the Auto star and field tripod. With
the $99 set of Meade eyepieces, it was a deal I found hard to refuse. I
recently sold my 10" Coulter Dob which weighed in at a hefty 75 pounds
and had another 5 pounds of dust on it! My intentions were to justify
the ETX90 portability and "go to" operation to more enjoyable nights
under the stars. Well much to my surprise the first night I took the 90
out it appeared to be possessed with a mind of its own. I don't profess
to be an expert but this scope must have been programmed in another
solar system! So after a couple hours of total frustration and manually
moving the scope to look at Mars and the moon, I give up! This past week
when my son was home for Thanksgiving holiday I decided to take it back
out and show him, hopefully some objects. Little did I know the scope
had been listening to our conversation and had a different opinion. The
scope had been sitting on the tripod in the corner of the den, I plugged
up the Autostar and turned it on just to make sure the batteries had not
run down in two weeks, everything looked OK, although it seemed to be
scrolling very slow. I turned the scope off and picked up the tripod and
scope and headed for the driveway where I had a clear shot of the moon
and Mars. I sit the scope down and turned it on but did not seen the red
display, about the same time I noticed a smell and was just about to
blame the neighbor's cat when I realized something was wrong. I turned
the scope off and took it back in the house where I noticed as soon as I
entered the den that the base of the 90 was smoking! I quickly removed
the scope from the tripod and jerked the batteries out, too late, it
like Mr. Phelps many IM recordings had self destructed. Once again I
have found out that if a deal sounds too good to be true it usually is!

Gary A. Lewis
Mike here: There are a couple of causes of smoking: one or more batteries reversed or a wiring problem. Since you indicated you had some problems initially, either could be the cause. What happened when you did the first CALIBRATE and TRAIN DRIVES before you start out that first night?

And:

It would slew in the general direction of the object but was always
10-15 degrees off. It got to within 20 degrees of Mars the first night.
I later read the manual and calibrated the drive motors focusing on a
neighbor's porch light across the street. Everything seemed to be OK.
I've had 25 years of engineering background and feel pretty confident
putting batteries in correctly even close to a dozen! So I'm guessing
there was something loose, binding or touching internally. Have
contacted the retailer and will be sending this jewel back for a
replacement, although I'm having second thoughts!
Mike here: A 15 degree error on the initial alignment star pointing typically indicates a DST error. The more accurate the DRIVE TRAINing the better the GOTOs. Using a too close object for training can create errors unless it is a pinpoint source.
Subject:	ETX: subfolder sorting
Sent:	Monday, December 1, 2003 07:19:20
From:	Dieter.Wolf@DNSint.com
it's time again to say 'thanks' for your engagement and your continuous
work providing us such a wonderful place to 'meet'.

If you find some time and if it's not a problem, could you please resort
the subfolders in 'Helpful Information - Astrophotography - '
so that the newest postings appear on top (as in most other subtopics on
your website). Especially for small bandwidth connections it's a problem
to start with - e.g. - November 18th, 2001 in the 'Canon' subfolder and
go all the long way down to todays posting. Would be great.

Thanks Mike,
always clear skies,

Dieter Wolf (Munich, Germany)
Mike here: I reversed the order for those pages since I intended them to be a tips kind of page where users would read from the top to the bottom. But I do understand the concern about bandwidth and will change the order (barring any site visitor complaints) beginning in January 2004. I also hope to keep the individual pages shorter.
Subject:	ETX 125 EC and ETX 125AT
Sent:	Sunday, November 30, 2003 20:50:46
From:	randall.detra@verizon.net (R. Detra)
I have been confused by the difference between the ETX 125 EC and ETX
125AT.

The dealer I usually work with says the ETX 125 EC will always be an
"EC" and should you decide to buy the ETX 125AT, you will find "ETX
125EC" on all identifying labels on the scope.  So you have to get used
to the idea that the catalog sells only the "AT" but Meade really sells
only the "EC".

They say the only difference between the AT and the EC is that the AT
has the Autostar and tripod added into the package.

This is very confusing!

Sincerely,

Randall
Mike here: See the Announcements - Meade page on the ETX Site. The model designator change clarifies what is bundled with the telescope ("AT" has an Autostar).

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