Last updated: 4 March 1998

If you have any comments, suggestions, 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:	 Congrats on the great site!
Sent:	Friday, February 27, 1998 20:09:49
From:	infntyx2@ice.net (Ted Scoma)
I've been the owner of an 8 inch Starhopper for about a year. 
The scope has been been great but has been limiting in the sense
that moving it is quite a task.  If you don't have a truck,
getting the scope out to a remote site is an effort.
I recently picked up an ETX but unfortunately the sky hasn't been
too agreeable.  I'm looking forward to some clear nights in the
future but until then will just have to wait.  The reason I
purchased the scope was for the its great balance of portability
and quality optics.

My question to you is this...  Is there an easy way to determine
the latitude and longitude of your location?  I've looked on the
web and found some partial information based on census info and
zip codes but information was incomplete.  Is there an easy way
to find your location on the net from behind a keyboard?

Thanks for the great site and info!

Ted Scoma

Mike here: One possible source of local lat/long is Need Your Latitude/Longitude? You can also try your local airport or library.

Subject:	 Comments
Sent:	Friday, February 27, 1998 17:50:04
From:	lirelanature@videotron.ca (Lire la Nature)
I am a canadian Meade dealer and I just discovered your site.
This is great and I will recommand to my customers who bought and
will buy an ETX that they should visit it.
Thank you for your good work!
Best regards,
Stefan Broquet
Longueuil, Quebec
Meade APD dealer
& SBIG distributor in Canada

Subject:	 Re: ETX
Sent:	Thursday, February 26, 1998 10:54:27
From:	revff@ro.com (Felicia A. Fontaine)
I've visited your ETX page many times and have found it to be
very helpful. Below, please find the letter to Sky and Telescope.

Thank you for including recommendations for people with
mobility limitations in your article in the December
issue about choosing telescopes. I have a Meade ETX and
a Celestron C5+, and both are ideal for people in

Astronomy is a perfect avocation for those who roll
rather than walk, and I appreciate your consideration
of us. Following years as a NASA contractor I
rediscovered basic astronomy after being diagnosed with
multiple sclerosis and compelled to retire. Rather than
allowing my world to be limited, I have expanded it by
billions of miles. I would welcome contact with others
who roll to their scope.

Felicia A. Fontaine
3025 Andros Dr.
Huntsville, AL 35805

Subject:	 The ETX and double stars
Sent:	Wednesday, February 25, 1998 09:04:38
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Well, we just had our first clear night for some time. M42 was a
real treat as was M44 and the Pleiades. Being a double star fan I
moved over to Xi Ursa Major which is now climbing higher in the
east. It is about 1.4 seconds separation and being wider than the
ETX' s lower limit, is a real treat with a nice thin black gap
between the two stars. It can be split from about 117X to the
limit of around 358X. The sky was clear and steady, so I went
over to Cancer and the triple star, I think that it is Zeta. The
main pair are 5.9 seconds apart so they are easy to split. Now
the hard part. One of the pair is another double but only 0.7
seconds apart, just over half of the limit of the ETX. However,
without first confirming the position angle of the pair in my
observers guide, I did see enough elongation of the image to be
able to subsequently confirm the position angle of the pair. Now
obviously it was not split, but it was nice to see how
consistantly clear the images in the ETX are.  The elongation was
most apparent at 238X. Castor was its usual dramatic self along
with Gamma Leo. What a joy this telescope is.
Will write again soon.


Subject:	 Magnetic Variation - Mobile ETX Users
Sent:	Wednesday, February 25, 1998 08:30:14
From:	Tim.Seed@mci.com (Tim.Seed)
For people who really are on the move, I found this Web Site that
has some very very accurate Magnetic Variation information.
The Web Address is as follows...


I have downloaded and am using the C based software, when the
weather lifts I will see how more accurate my magnetic based
Polar alignment has become (or hasn't).
    Tim Seed.

Subject:	ETX pictures
Sent:	Monday, February 23, 1998 10:09:42
I really appreciate your devotion to your web page.  I doubt if
people realize the amount of time and expense that you put into
the endeavor. Incidentally I made the Drive ON indicator
modification.  Great for us old retired guys that once in a while
forget things. Had to replace the batteries after leaving it on
after an observing session.  The weather has been so cold and
dreary that I haven't observed this winter, although it has been
mild compared to other winters here.
Speculation: If I understand how large corporations work I would
say that Meade has the successor to the ETX  (ET? 5 inch
aperature?) waiting on some exec.'s desk for the time when the
ETX sales drop off. Which may be some years down the road.

Well thanks again,

Mike here: Thanks Frank. I am having fun and learning ETX tips as well from doing the web site. Plus it is nice to be able to help out so many others by making the information available. Of course, I can not do it alone; the contributions from you and many, many others make this site what it is. As to an ETX II, who knows. Wish I did!

Subject:	Meade ext
Sent:	Sunday, February 22, 1998 19:49:14
From:	Snollewd@aol.com
can the etx be mounted on a regular tripode ?
Thank you   Don G. Wellons

Mike here: Yes, check out the Accessories - Tripods page. I show the ETX mounted on a regular tripod. Several users have also commented on using a Bogen photographic tripod as well.

Subject:	 Brazilian User
Sent:	Saturday, February 21, 1998 09:10:14
From:	murilo@connectsi.com.br (Connect SI)
First of all congratulations on your home page!!! It's
wonderfull!! Well, after a long time waiting for my ETX to arrive
I finally received it last week.
My question is about polar alignment being myself and the ETX in
the southern hemisphere. If you have any tip from other users it
will be very helpful!!  Since I can't see the North polar star I
tried with Crux but this is a try and error method...

Also I'm beginning astrophoto and as soon as I have good pictures
of my southern sky i'l send then to your gallery....


Murilo Serrano
Sao Paulo - Brazil

Mike here: Glad you like the ETX site. As to polar aligning in the Southern Hemisphere, check out the Buyer/New User Tips page for Polar Aligning Techniques. You probably need try using the compass method plus the Drift Method. Let me know how it works out.

Subject:	ETX modifications
Sent:	Friday, February 20, 1998 00:04:21
From:	LTHUEDK@aol.com
Since making the last modification to my RA drive, by adding a
telephone jack next to the red LED on the side of the base, and a
coiled phone cord terminating at a small metal box, with
potentiometer inside-I now have the means to finely control the
RA +/_7%, which is ideal for tracking up to 3 pounds of f 2.8
Nikon telephoto!  I took a chance of smoking the little motor,
but if you recall, I modified the bearing surfaces, and found the
combination of two lubricants works to smooth the mechanics.  I
now know the motor can handle the weight of an off-axis guider
and camera without a problem.  And with a large knob on the
handheld RA box, I can control the guidestar positioning with
gloves on (no more frozen fingers at Joshua Tree Nat'l Park!).
I'll keep in touch and let you know how things turn out.

Stay healthy, Stephen Pitt

Sent:	Thursday, February 19, 1998 12:12:34
From:	mark_marshall@iucc.iupui.edu (Mark Marshall)
Mike- very useful site. I own a Celestron C-8 and use the ETX as
a portable instrument when camping with my scout troop. Just
wanted to alert astrophotography buffs to two color CCD images
published in the march Sky and Telescope taken by Jack Newton
with an ETX piggybacked on a C-16. Exceptional detail of the Ring
and Dumbbell nebula. Shows the precision of the optics. I've got
a SBIG ST-7 on order and may eventually try some portable imaging
in the field with the ETX. I imagine it will only work out on
exceptionally bright objects so that I can stack extremely short
exposures. I will try some of the fixes you outline for the
tracking errors. With it's exceptional optics and a proper mount
the ETX might provide a less expensive alternative to flourite
refracters for some astrophotography applications.

Subject:	hello
Sent:	Wednesday, February 18, 1998 06:48:34
From:	AstroFrk69@aol.com
I have a couple of questions and I was wondering if you could
answer them.  I was wondering if a planet such as venus or
mercury, ever crossed between the earth and the sun during the
day?  In other words, you would be able to see its shadow, almost
like an eclipse with jupiters moons, only a planet in between the
earth and sun. Which means I could see it with a solar filter and
telescope.  Does that ever happen and if so, when?
And another thing....how do u determine the magnitude of a star
or planet?  Is there a formula or anything?

any info would help

Mike here: Transits (as they are known) of Mercury and Venus do occur. Magazines like Astronomy and Sky & Telescope usually note them a few months in advance. I checked Voyager II for Transits: the next one for Mercury is November 15, 1999 (visible in the US) and Venus on June 8, 2004 (but not visible from the US). I would expect that some other skycharting software can do this as well. As to the magnitude of objects, there is a scale used. For you to determine the magnitude of an abject like a star or planet, you have to compare it to the magnitude of another object. For that you really need sky charts (or software).

Subject:	 ETX stuff..
Sent:	Wednesday, February 18, 1998 01:48:06
From:	benchr@teleport.com (Ross Bench)
First off, nice page !!

Here's a couple ideas I have been using with good result:

When using the #64 T-Adapter I also use the Lumicon 4.25"
eyepiece extension tube (LAD145 $25.00) to achieve focus of a
26mm eyepiece (I use a 26mm Sirius plossel, not the 26mm Meade)
in the normal eyepiece position.

This allows me to simply flip the mirror for a view through the
eyepiece that is at the exact same focus as the camera and is
obviously MUCHO brighter and clearer !!

Also, when using the variable tele-extender with a Meade Series
4000 18mm SWA (using the 1.25" visual back) the same 26mm eyepiece
can be focused with the camera without the eyepiece extension
tube. All you have to do is lift it about an 1/8" to 1/4"ish in
the eyepiece holder and viola ! it's at the same focus as the

I need to experiment with more eyepiece combinations but this
really makes it a cinch to check your focus and position.

Thanks and Take Easy

Ross Bench

Subject:	 Hello
Sent:	Tuesday, February 17, 1998 23:17:04
From:	marv_martian@earthling.net (Marvin)
Just wanted to say thanks for providing such a useful page. My
ETX is only 3 days old, and your page was instramental in it's
purchase. My only observation is that polar alignment with the
table top tripod from my latitude (Hawaii 21deg or so) is
practically impossible, it will tip over. Other than that I am
constantly ammazed at what I can now see.

Subject:	 ETX tracking
Sent:	Monday, February 16, 1998 22:39:45
From:	fap@cvtci.com.ar (Fabio Picconi)
I've been experiencing some problems with the ETX motor drive,
and I would like to know some of your, or other people's opinions
about this.
To precisely test the tracking, I have been using a 256X power on
objects near the celestial equator, so that the apparent speed is
maximum. Yet the motor engages about one time out of three, and
not "a few seconds" (as the manual says) after RA locking, but
after an average of 30 seconds, enough for objects to move
through the entire field of view (using the Super Plossl 9.7mm +
Barlow). It's pretty annoying to position the object I'm
interested in outside the field of view, so that the tracking
starts when it is properly centered.

Is this normal? Is is possible (and useful) to open and check the
motor drive?

        Thank you.


Mike here: Check out Tom Price's comment in the June-July 1997 Feedback page. (I used the Site Search capability to locate this reference.)

Subject:	 ETX
Sent:	Monday, February 16, 1998 15:51:20
From:	cann@axionet.com (Douglas Cann)
Hi Mike,
I sometimes think that people forget that the ETX is a small,
convenient easy to use telescope and that they are expecting far
too much from it. If observers want to perform all of the extra
tasks and add about 3 lbs. of extra gear, wouldn't it be easier
to buy a telescope that was designed for this type of work in the
first place.

The drive, while as good as you can possibly expect in a $500.00
telescope, (even better probably), it was designed for fairly
straight forward observing and very short exposure astro
photography.  Through a lot of work and effort YOU have exceeded
these limits. I think that the average users have to be more
realistic in their expectations. I've even heard of 80 mm finders
being attached to the ETX !!! Isn't that going a little bit to
the extreme on a 90 mm telescope.

Just a few thoughts while I wait for the clouds to clear and I
hope that other owners can enjoy their ETX'S for what they are
and not what they think that Meade should have made them to be.

Best Regards,


Mike here: Thanks for the compliment. I have added a Buyer/New User Tips page to try to address some of these concerns.

Subject:	 Re[2]: Suggestion for buying eyepiece for ETX
Sent:	Friday, February 13, 1998 15:05:33
From:	Venkataram.Venkatakrishnaiah@ps.net
Thank you very much for the instant response. You have maintained
an excellent web site for ETX.
I checked up the John O' Rears comments.

I am now contemplating of buying either a 6.7 mm or 9.5 mm Series
3000 Plossl eyepiece. Will I be able to use the 2X Barlow lens
along with the 6.7 mm eyepiece to get magnification around 372
for planetary observations only (Since this exceeds the MAX
PRACTICAL VISUAL POWER of ETX which is 325X) without much
degradation in the image quality? Or do you suggest that I be
satisfied with the 9.5mm eyepiece with 2X Barlow to get
magnification of 262.

I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

Mike here: As to pushing the magnification limit, there have been some reports of doing this WHEN seeing is excellent and only on bright objects like the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn. I would not count on finding such magnification of much use.

Subject:	 JMI products
Sent:	Thursday, February 12, 1998 16:16:55
From:	fap@cvtci.com.ar (Fabio Picconi)
I was visiting your ETX site, and I got interested in the JMI
accessories, especially the Piggy-back mount. However, as I'm
living in Argentina I'm not very informed of the ETX stuff
available. Can you tell me where can I find more info about JMI
(is it a telescope making firm?) products?
Do you know of any other way of taking piggy-back photos with the
ETX? (I wanted to try to put the camera directly on top of the
telescope, but I'm not so sure...)

    Thank you.

Fabio Picconi

Mike here: JMI and many companies advertise in Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines. I know that Sky & Telescope has international editions so you might check for a recent issue. There should be ads for many mail order companies there. JMI does make telescopes (large ones) and accessories for many types of telescope.

Subject:	hello
Sent:	Wednesday, February 11, 1998 12:53:21
From:	AstroFrk69@aol.com
i was wondering if there is a maximum weight of lets say
eyepieces and cameras in order for the tracking to work properly
on the etx.  I sometimes use a 22mm panoptic and a barlow with my
etx, which gets heavy, and using the tracking seems fine, but is
there a certain weight the motor can or can't handle? thanks
mike, love the site

Mike here: I haven't seen any exact weight indications but I can say that the Pentax Spotmatic was sufficient to mess up tracking when mounted on either the rear of the ETX or at the eyepiece. The JMI Piggyback Mount with its counterbalance didn't have a drive problem. Maybe someone (gee, I wish Meade would monitor the site!) will have something more to add.

Subject:	 Compass correction
Sent:	Wednesday, February 11, 1998 09:21:58
From:	tabasco@communique.net (Gene Bonin)
I've had my ETX for a couple of weeks now and am still fascinated
by the moon and even managed to see the rings of Saturn. I have
read practically all of the archives and since I live amongst the
pine trees in the country, I have given up hope of seeing
Polaris. However, I have seen a couple of promising solutions to
this in the archives. My question is when using a magnetic
compass, the advice is to  correct for the variation in your
area. I don't know what this is or how to determine it.
Keep up the good work. The URL-minder is great for keeping up
with your site.


Mike here: You can call your local airport (especially if a small one). They can give you the magnetic variation (the difference between magnetic north and true north). Telescope drives track on true north (one end of the earth's axis) whereas compasses show magnetic north. Unless your compass is VERY accurate and even if there are no magnetic field disturbances, your alignment will only be a rough one.

Subject:	ETX electronic board
Sent:	Tuesday, February 10, 1998 23:43:40
From:	FGBIKE@aol.com
Surely some enterprising individual is designing a board to
replace the minimal original equipment. do you know of such an
ongoing effort?  It seems with the amount of interest in the ETX
it  might be a profitable venture. If I had the education I would
strongly consider such a venture. I hope to see such an offering
before too long. Do you know of such an effort?

Added later:

I was thinking more along the lines of a board that would allow
for an external push button control of fast and slow motion in
right ascension that might allow guiding for photography.  On
second thought there probably would not be much of a market
(read: chance to make money) for such a after market item. 
However it would be convient.

Mike here: There are some potential solutions that allow more control over drive speed; see the Guest Contributions page.

From MAPUG mailing list:
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 23:13:53 +0100
From: "Courtois Julien" (Julien.Courtois@span.ch)
Subject: [M]: ETX: Eyepiece collection: The answers & more questions
Dear collective intelligence,
less than a week ago I've asked two questions about eyepieces and
the ETX. Here is what I've found, based on severals answers from
this list & some electronical surfing:
First of all, a general remark (which should be included in the
FAQ of alt.support.depression.I_want_to_buy_a_telescope_now ;-) ):
   Good Eyepieces last a lifetime--buy the best and you won't
   have to buy any more ever again.
1) about low power eyepieces: the maximum field which can be seen
in an ETX is a little bit more than 1.4°, which means that a 32mm
Ploessl would do the trick. A 40mm only reduces the magnification
without adding significantely more field. Another possibility
would be with to buy a Meade 24.5mm SWA, more magnification,
approximately the same field, but because the ETX is not realy a
good light collector, the weaks objects will remain very dim.
Conclusion: I've found at astromart a 32mm televue Ploessl :-)))
which I await impatiently.
2) about high magnification eyepieces: here things get more
complicated: after some research on the net, I came to the
conclusion that the general rule of thumb which says that the
highest usable magnification is 50 x D is probably under the
effective possible magnification with a small  scope like the ETX
under good seeing conditions. The practical limit is (after my
own experiences with a 5mm Clave eyepiece) set by the focusing
knob, which is _very_ hard to adjust perfectly at higher
magnification (let's say more than 200x).  It can be achieved,
but only if you are rather patient. So I came to the conlusion
that a good EP ~7mm / ~80° FOV would be the wisest choice, but
here I'm faced with _TWO_ possibilities: either a Meade 4000
6.7mm UWA ( I already have some feedback for this one) or a
Nagler 7mm. Which one does perform the best in the ETX?
Experience anybody?

BTW: I'm still considering to buy a _good_ Orthoscopic in the
range 5..6 mm for my solar/lunar/planetary observation. Zeiss
Abbe / Pentax ortho are certainly good eyepieces, but have
somebody tried this on an ETX?

Thanks in advance for the answers

Clear skies to all


PS: I hope that I was understandable, my mother tongue is
definitly _not_ English :-(

A response:

Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 21:22:29 -0500
From: Jim Lowry (jim-lowry@att.net)
I recently bought the Nagler 12mm and have found it to be an
immensely useful EP for both my ETX and the LX200.  Tonight I got
razor sharp images of Saturn, as well as the moon.  Consider this
for any collection.

Jim, in the still clear 'Burgh  (this is the last night though!!)

Another response:

Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 12:23:37 -1000
From: Allan Gould (ALLAN@aahl.dah.csiro.au)
I purchased series 4000 meade 15mm and 9.7 mm eyepieces for my
10' LX50 and regularly use these on my ETX with very good
results. I have also used a 6mm LV eyepiece on the ETX on Saturn
(steady seeing). This gave exceptional views and made the whole
idea of a portable scope that can take this level of
magnification a good choice for me. Hope this helps,
Allan Gould

Subject:	 re  cutting case foam
Sent:	Sunday, February 8, 1998 19:45:38
From:	cgood@telepath.com (Charles)
I have not tried this but read about it a few months ago. Get the
foam wet and freeze it. It is easier to cut when hard. This makes
sense to me anyway. It should be like carving wood.

Subject:	 Like your ETX page
Sent:	Sunday, February 8, 1998 19:35:34
From:	cgood@telepath.com (Charles)
I have been surfing the web for info on telescopes. I like your
page. Been thinking about the ETX but it may be a bit small for
all around use. I wonder why Meade hasn't made a 5" Maksutov. It
would fit nicely between the ETX and the 7" Mak. The Maksutov
design would make a 5" scope much better than Celestrons C5. I
wonder if any ETX owners wish for a 5" version too?
Keep up the good work. 

Mike here: The ETX, like the small Questar, is a truly portable telescope. Going up to 5" would make it slightly less portable. Yes, there are many reasons that a larger scope would be nice. I looked at the Celestron 5" but went for the ETX.

Subject:	 ETX: Experiences with "Orion Sky Wizard" (star finder)?
Sent:	Sunday, February 8, 1998 08:03:48
From:	Brad.Johnson@SystemExperts.com (Brad C. Johnson)
First, thank you very much for your very informative site ETX.  I
appreciate your efforts immensely.
My direction question is: does anybody have experience with using
the Orion Sky Wizard finder
If so, is it worth it? Secondly, why would this be better or
worse than one of the other products on the market.
Brad C. Johnson, Principal        brad.johnson@SystemExperts.com
401.348.3099 (direct)             401.348.3078 (FAX)
SystemExperts Corporation         info@SystemExperts.com
http://www.SystemExperts.com/     Internic (WhoIs) Handle: SYSTEMEXPERTS-DOM

Subject:	 cutting case foam
Sent:	Saturday, February 7, 1998 06:10:59
From:	anspeca@pdq.net (Anthony N. Speca)
I purchased a foam block for a  hard sided case that I plan to
use to carry my ETX along to Aruba for the Feb solar eclipse.  It
is easy to cut with a sharp knife but I am wondering if anyone
has experience in how to cut openings in the foam so the
equipment fits snuggly.  Any tips or comments are appreciated.
Anthony N. Speca
4306 Hill Forest Dr
Kingwood, TX 77345-1423
(281) 360-6141

Subject:	 Re: ETX R.A. Mod
Sent:	Friday, February 6, 1998 05:50:28
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
To answer a part location problem, I was able to find the bolt at
several "mom & pop" hardware stores in addition to Lowes.
However, you should have no problem with a 10-24 in place of the
8-32. The only drawback is the thread pitch (i.e. number of
threads per inch). With the 8-32 you have a finer control through
the lock nut than you do with a 10-24 (much grosser pitch). The
diameter of the screw is larger of course, but if it fits easily
through the hole left by the sheet metal screw in the plastic
clutch assembly, then it should be O.K. I am not sure about the
wood screw pitch end. It will be larger in diameter than the
original sheet metal screw, but that should insure a good tight
fit so that it won't come loose from the plastic like the sheet
metal screw does in the ETX.
Clear skys!

Paul Boudreaux

Subject:	 Suggestion for buying eyepiece for ETX
Sent:	Wednesday, February 4, 1998 15:54:22
From:	Venkataram.Venkatakrishnaiah@ps.net
Even though I bought an ETX for my son who is 10 years old, I am
using it more. I bought the standard 26 mm eyepiece which gives
48X magnification. I also have a #126 2X Barlow lens to go with
I want to buy a another eyepiece to get greater magnification for
viewing Jupiter, Saturn, Moon and Comets. Since the maximum
practical magnification of ETX is 325X, I want some suggestions

1. should I buy a 6.7mm eyepiece (with which I will not be able
to use the Barlow lens since magnification exceeds 325). Is it
not possible to use the 6.7mm eyepiece with the 2X barlow lens at


2. should I buy a SP 9.7 mm eyepiece and use the barlow
lens along with it.
Please suggest. My e-mail addresses are
     1. Venkataram@worldnet.att.net 
     2. Venkataram.Venkatakrishnaiah@ps.net

Mike here: If you haven't already, check out John O'Rear's comments further down this page. He has some excellent thoughts along the lines of your question. Also, check out the Accessories - Eyepieces page. You could also do a site Search on "eyepiece", there are many, many comments re: eyepieces.

Subject:	 Star Diagonal Eyepiece Holder
Sent:	Wednesday, February 4, 1998 08:08:30
From:	tabasco@communique.net (Gene Bonin)
Hi Mike. What a great site. My ETX will be here any day now! I'm
a newbie, so forgive me if this is a stupid or non-question. I've
noticed that all SCT's have the eyepiece mounted in a star
diagonal (?) coming out of the rear of the scope. Since the ETX
has this capability, is there a reason why this is not a good
idea or won't work?
If you're not making any money off this site, that's a crime. But
keep up the good work anyway!


Mike here: Glad you like the site. And no, the site is not bringing in the MILLIONS of dollars I had hoped... As to the rear mounted eyepiece on a 90 degree "erecting prism", some scopes don't have an eyepiece mount on the side of the tube like the ETX has since that requires an extra mirror in the light path. So, they mount the EP at the rear. And since that reverses images and is somewhat inconvenient, a diagonal is added to deflect the light sideways and "erect" the image. With the ETX you can add this option if you like (see the Accessories - Misc page) but it is not required.

Subject:	 Re: ETX Drive motor
Sent:	Wednesday, February 4, 1998 05:40:48
From:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (Paul J. Boudreaux)
As for now, a quick but temporary fix is simply to adjust the
tension (i.e. tighten or loosen) the head of the sheet metal
screw that you see when you remove the bottom cover below the
edge of the printed circuit board. Usually this will cure the
"jerkiness" in the tracking - at least for a while until the
combined tension of the drive assembly again loosens the screw.
Then it will be jerky again. My suggestion of replacing the sheet
metal screw all together  with a Hanger Bolt allows one to
tightly screw the sheet metal end into the base of the ETX (so
that the screw never moves) and then using a combination plastic
ligned steel "lock nut" and washer combination to eliminate the
possibility of tension drag changing the tension on the friction
clutch assembly in the ETX. The reference to the drive motor
itself has confused me? You leave the drive motor alone. It is
the large plastic gear wheel that is removed with the assembly to
gain access to the screw hole when you replace the sheet metal
screw with the hanger bolt. It is that large toothed gear that
must re-engage the gear on the drive motor  so that the assembly
works properly.Diagonally across from this drive gear is the
manual RA adjust gear. Both must engage the large gear
simultaneously. You have to "jiggle" and carfully rock the gear
assembly  to insure that these small brass gear teeth are not
hung-up on top of the gear.  Then you can check how much to
tighten (or loosen) the lock nut to apply just the right amount
of compression on the assembly so that the telescope mount does
not "rock" back and forth (i.e. too loose) but not too tight so
that the clutch engages easily. The drive will track immediately
- instead of a time delay (i.e. when you track Jupiter). It will
no longer jerk as it tracks.
I adjust the exposed lock nut with a small nut driver when I
remove the bottom cover. It is a very easy adjustment. Meade has
even notched the printed circuit board above the old sheet metal
screw so that you can easily adjust this screw(or lock nut). In
fact, the ease of adjustment of the sheet metal screw is the root
cause of the problem in the first place. The screw threads in the
plastic loose their grip on the plastic case and then the sheet
metal screw itself turns due to the drive motor tension and
rotation. That causes the assembly to fail to track properly. My
solution is to replace this Sheet Metal screw with the Hanger
Bolt that has a slightly fatter screw body. When it is inserted
into the hole left by the sheet metal screw it is a lot tighter.
The idea then is to tighten that part down so that the wood screw
part od the Hanger Bolt never moves in the hole. The adjustment
for tension on the drive assembly is now done with the lock nut
on the machine threads of the hanger bolt.

This modification to the Meade design has completely eliminated
all of the tracking problems in my ETX. I hope it can help yours.

Paul Boudreaux

Subject:	PiggyBack photos
Sent:	Monday, February 2, 1998 23:49:10
From:	LTHUEDK@aol.com
Adding a potentiometer to the ETX with accessible screwdriver
adjustment through the base plate was not enough to give good
long exposure results.  Oh, its fine to make a speed adjustment
at weight under unvarying conditions, but outside in the average
winter night that motor speed changes radically. What has changed
everything is the addition of a knurled knob which is easily
accessible while the scope is tracking ( i.e. the "ETX bump n
While continuous adjustment with an ungloved hand in 20 degree
temperature for five to nineteen minutes seems masochistic, the
photographic results make the ordeal worthwhile.  I note that the
RA speed varies not only by mechanical design, but by voltage
drop as the night wears on.  Both of these variables are easily
controlled by the adjustable potentiometer.  And if the
illuminated guiding eyepeice is rotated to align with the RA and
Dec axes before beginning a photo session, adjustment is much

To make the declination adjustment smoother, I disassembled the
fork and used white lithium grease on the threaded shaft at a
point on each side of the moving internal fork.  Then, I removed
all the hardware and carefully smoothed all bearing surfaces,
including the clutching mechanism and side plates on the outside
of the forks.  At these points, I applied dry graphite powder. I
realize this sounds a bit excessive, but at 150X, the tiniest
irregularity in these parts creates pictorial catastrophe.   The
results have justified the means, and I am excited with the
prospects of higher magnifications with an off-axis guider.

Hope you are well and have avoided the bugs I'm unwillingly

Stephen Pitt

P.S. I forgot to view your photographic work before writing to
you.  Your results are beautiful.  Orion, from your window, seems
to stick well.

Subject:	 Your thoughts on selling my ETX
Sent:	Monday, February 2, 1998 08:14:43
From:	dgore@cfg-mktg.com (Daniel Gore)
I purchased an ETX late Fall, in Minnesota, and I have not been
so thrilled with the 'wow appeal'of what I have seen.  I am a
pure amateur who wants to show my kids Saturn, Jupiter and other
"cool" stuff.
I have found that the images I see of the two planets
mentioned--both have been in great position--are very
unsatisfying.  My location is dark enough, but the planets don't
have the detail I want.  I have both a Barlow and a Super

Am I asking too much for earth-based viewing.  I was expecting to
see more color in Saturn's rings.  I was expecting larger images
of the individual planets.  Mars and Venus have seemed to only be
illuminated spots, not unlike what Polaris looks like to the
naked eye.

Have I been too conditioned by NASA and Hollywood to get any
satisfaction?  I have considered a 10" Dob, or 8"
Celestial....but I don't know what they can do.

Please advise me.  Am I getting all I can get (without spending
$1,000+), or do I just need a less portable tool.

Thank you,


Mike here: Many amateurs don't realize that the images they've seen of planets and nebulae are a long ways from what the eye will see through ANY size telescope. Yes, larger scopes can show more details and sometimes more colors but at a higher cost. And doing serious astrophotography with the larger scopes requires even more money and a serious time commitment. If you take a look at the Astrophotography - Planets page, you'll get an idea of how Venus can look through the ETX. You just have to catch her at the right phase. Mars is another matter however; this past opposition (its closest approach to Earth) was not a very good one. So, are you getting your money's worth? If you want to see more then you need a larger telescope (more $$$). But will you continue to use that larger telescope, given that it is less portable than the ETX? Unless you are VERY serious, larger scopes tend to stay inside the house, unused.

Added later:

Thank you for the explanation.  I appreciate your quick response.
We (ETX users) are lucky to have an enthusiast like you to lend
a hand.  Good luck--from a newly dedicated ETX user!

Dan Gore

Subject:	 Another first timer...
Sent:	Monday, February 2, 1998 03:24:31
From:	johno@iglou.com (John O'Rear)
I hope you don't get tired of hearing this, but... Excellent
Thought I'd chip in with my experience with the ETX.

Leveling a table in my front yard was more of a chore than I
thought, especially in the dark. Snagged my wife's Bogen 3130 and
that did the trick. This fall has been a terrific time to own an
ETX, what with Jupiter and Saturn being clearly visible in the
late evening, not to mention Venus. I've had a couple of
impromptu star parties, and people are blown away with their
first look at Saturn - they never knew something so beautiful was
up in the skies. Found Mir one night, in the 26mm it looks like a
winged champagne bottle. Cheers to you, too, cosmonauts!

Barlow: Meade #126. yeah, I got rooked by the Nature Company on
the price, but what the hey, they had the ETX in stock at a stock
price. Won't be back for any other accessories, though.

Meade 13mm SWA - my favorite. With this on the barlow, Jupiter
really struts it's stuff. The bands are clearly visible, as is
the color. Has anyone out there seen the red spot through an ETX?
I haven't been able to find it. Good separation on Saturn's ring.
The extra eye relief takes a little getting used to, as you twist
your neck to look out the corner.

Meade 6.6 SP - not bad, but I find the 13+barlow gives about the
same magnification, and just looks clearer. Maybe it's my
imagination. The 6.6 + barlow is probably a bit too much, as
things start to get really blurry, when you can get it focused.
I've seen a few 8.8 UWA's popping up used for < $200, and might
take the plunge. As I hope to go larger aperture sometime in the
future, does one lose anything when adapting a 1.25 to a 2 inch

If I did anything wrong, it was the selection of 26, 13, and 6 mm
eyepieces, each one + barlow is about the same as the next.
However, I've been so happy with the 13 SWA, I wouldn't trade it.
Anyone starting out would do well to get the ETX, a decent
tripod, the 126 barlow and 13 SWA. Don't waste your money on
lesser scopes, $400 for a 4 inch newtonian doesn't really get you
much, and the extra $200 to get an ETX is money well spent. This
is the first scope I've had that was really worth the effort.

Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with this little jewel. Very
clear images, and the color is something to behold. Is there
anything I don't like about it? Yes, it has me lusting for larger
apertures. (who doesn't?) Maybe the MAK LX50, general opinion
seems to hold that the 7 inch MAK OTA is Meade's finest product.
But, that's a ways off and I have plenty of time to dream.

Subject:	Expanding my eyepiece collection
Sent: 2 Feb 1998 14:23:24 +0000
From: Julien.Courtois@x400.gr.admin.ch
I'm thinking to expand my eyepieces collection. I already own the
Meade 26mm Ploessl which came with the , 2x barlow (#126) and a
18mm Ortho from Vixen.
1) Is a 7mm (and evtl. an 5mm) ortho a good idea? I realy enjoy
the 18mm ortho I already have (sharp images) and would like to
continue this way. Are the wide angle 7 & 5mm (Nagler, etc...)
as good as the ortho in term of sharpness? In other words are
they realy worth the extra money?

2) I'm searching a low power eyepiece (32..35mm range). I have
an opportunity to buy a "Bausch & lomb" 32mm ploessl eyepiece
at a very interesting price, but still hesitate. Any
suggestions? BTW, what is the lowest usable  magnification that I
can produce with my ETX?
Thanks in advance
PS: Donations are welcome too ;-)

Subject:	Polar alignment
Sent:	Mon, 02 Feb 1998 12:19:34 -1000
From:	Allan Gould (allan@aahl.dah.csiro.au)
Can someone in this group give me some clear advice. As a second
telescope I often use an ETX, tripod mounted, which I find
useful before dragging out the 10".  But many times I find the
time has gone by too fast as I'm enjoying the simplicity of the
view etc.- except for one thing. Due to the arrangement of the
ETX its almost impossible to view around the South Polar region
due to no travel between the forks etc and the etx is a bugger in
this area of the sky. At 38 degrees south of the equator
(Melbourne, Australia) many good views are to be had with this
small scope just set up Alt/Az with no drive. So last night I
thought why not turn the scope around and flip the N/S switch to
North setting and see if it tracks objects OK. Tripod was still
set for 38o declination. It seemed to track OK but a bit off. The
question is:- is this a valid thing to do and how could I improve
the tracking?
When used normally ie South polar aligned the scope is very good
especially after making the RA modifications to the drive as on
Weasner's site (Thanks for a great site).
A little tip from the web is to use a clothes peg on the focus
knob of the etx - turns it into a very smooth focuser with very
little shaking. So good that I used a slight modification of this
on the 10" with great results - especially for a 10 cent outlay.

Allan Gould
Email Allan@AAHL.DAH.CSIRO.au

"Friends come and go......Enemies accumulate"

"Ignorance can be fixed; stupid is forever!"

Subject:	 ETX Question
Sent:	Sunday, February 1, 1998 19:36:48
From:	lang5@earthlink.net (Sarah Lang)
Is there a light pollution filter to filter out light polution for
the ETX telescope? If there is can you tell me where to get one?
Where I live there is light pollution about halfway up in the sky
in the west! In the southeast its dark. When I use my new
binoculars I have to cover my hands around them to see the Seven
Sisters or I just see the glare of the street lights and the
neighbors bright glaring lights. In are neighborhood there is
pretty much a good veiw of things above the ground, but the light
pollution misses it up. By the way your web page is the best!!!
Send answers to 
Thanks end

Mike here: There are "nebular filters" which can help make objects more visible. Meade has two types: one for normal light pollution ($80), one for heavy light pollution ($90). Orion has two types of "Skyglow" filters which can help, $60 and $100 (search the ETX site for "broadband"). Check the dealers on the Astronomy Links page.

Subject:	 andromeda
Sent:	Sunday, February 1, 1998 16:12:01
From:	elrond@miracle.net (elrond)
Boy, after nearly a month of cloudy skies it finally broke and
given that it is now Feb. here in Ct. It has bee 40 degrees and
crystal clear skies!!! I was wondering if you or any visiting
surfers have been able to see the Andromeda galaxy with the ETX?
I have been unable to see it. If so is there any thing to improve
my chances?

Mike here: There have been some sightings of M31. Check the Accessories - Miscellaneous page and the various Feedback pages. Simplest way to do this is to do a Search on "M31", read those pages, and then do a Search on "Andromeda" and read those pages.

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