ETX USER FEEDBACK - FEBRUARY 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.com (Lire la Nature) Hello! 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 LIRE LA NATURE INC. Longueuil, Quebec CANADA Meade APD dealer & SBIG distributor in Canada
Subject: Re: ETX Sent: Thursday, February 26, 1998 10:54:27 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 wheelchairs. 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 email@example.com
Subject: The ETX and double stars Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 1998 09:04:38 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Cheers....Doug.
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... http://web.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/potfld/DoDWMM.html 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, Frank
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: email@example.com (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.... thanks Murilo Serrano Sao Paulo - Brazil firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com (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. Mark
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 thanx dave
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ross Bench) Howdy, 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 camera. 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: email@example.com (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. firstname.lastname@example.org http://home1.gte.net/marshin/
Subject: ETX tracking Sent: Monday, February 16, 1998 22:39:45 From: email@example.com (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. Fabio
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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, Doug.......
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: 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. Thanks, Venkataram
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: email@example.com (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 dave firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com (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. Thanks, Gene
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? Sincerely, Frank
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 Julien firstname.lastname@example.org PS: I hope that I was understandable, my mother tongue is definitly _not_ English :-(
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 21:22:29 -0500 From: Jim Lowry (email@example.com) 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!!)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. Charles >=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-<
Subject: Like your ETX page Sent: Sunday, February 8, 1998 19:35:34 From: email@example.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. Charles >=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-<
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 (220.127.116.11/CATALOG/746/48394.HTM)? If so, is it worth it? Secondly, why would this be better or worse than one of the other products on the market. Thanks. Brad -------------------------- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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. TIA 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: email@example.com (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 it. 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 all? or 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 Thanks, Venkataram
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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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! Gene
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: email@example.com (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 grind"). 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 easier. 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 hosting. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 Plossel. 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, Daniel
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.
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: email@example.com (John O'Rear) I hope you don't get tired of hearing this, but... Excellent site! 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 focuser? 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 Julien PLEASE ANSWER TO THIS ADDRESS: Julien.firstname.lastname@example.org PS: Donations are welcome too ;-)
Subject: Polar alignment Sent: Mon, 02 Feb 1998 12:19:34 -1000 From: Allan Gould (email@example.com) 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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? Thanks
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.
Check the Feedback Archives for previous editions of the Feedback page.
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