ETX USER FEEDBACK - JUNE-JULY 1997
Many ETX users have written to me; here are some of their comments.
See the ETX Feedback Page for current comments.
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 1997 23:52:15 From: email@example.com (Jonathan Maier) Greetings, Mike Lee at Meade has generously offered to repair my ETX with the busted flip mirror. I'm very happy about it; he said the repair time would only be about two weeks. Maybe they'll even clean the optical surfaces while there at it :) Speaking of which, here are some general comments about my experiences with my ETX over the last year: I always use the ETX with a heavy duty tripod, never those little legs it comes with. I'm using a beefy cam-corder tripod I got at Best Buy for like $60, more sturdy than the average Bogen costing many times more. When I travel out into the field, I fit my ETX, my SLR camera, a red-gelled flashlight, and charts into a regular bookbag, and I fit three nice oculars, camera adapter, deep-sky filter, and barlow lens into the front pencil pocket. When I have the back-pack on my back I slip the folded tripod under the shoulder straps behind my back and I can hike my entire astronomy set up anywhere I need to go, espcially out under dark skies where I can't take my car and can't plug in electricity. An additional beauty of this set-up is that for applications such as comet photography, I can take tracked pictures through the ETX and then take the telescope off the tripod, put the camera with a normal lens on, and take untracked pictures in no time. I've found the standard fluid tripod head to amply sturdy, except at the beach where wind induces significant perturbances. I also used my ETX for some crude spectroscopy for a Optics class earlier this year. I flipped the mirror up, taped a 15000 line/inch transmission grating onto the back mount, and placed a SLR camera body 15 degrees off axis on a wire bracket I made out of an old basket. I used this set up to visually test the effects of my lumicon deep-sky filter on HPS street lamps. As for astrophotography, I made some pretty nice close-up photogtaphs of comet Hyakutake, but I must say my wide angle shots with just my slr camera turned out a little prettier. The ETX does have an ideal magnification for taking shots of lunar eclipses, and I got some nice pictures of the lunar eclipse last fall. Unquestionably the best visual astronomy I got out of the scope was the night after Hurricane Fran blew through North Carolina, taking out the local power grid and all traces of pollution with it. I'm especially fond of my Meade UWA 13.8 mm ocular on clear nights like that. Anyway, I'm considering purchasing the following accessories and was wondering if anyone could venture opinions: -JMI's motofocus and motodec for $169 -Any large apperture (around 50 or 80 mm) finder scope (such as the ones by lumicon) piggy packed to the ETX (has anybody piggy backed a good-sized pair of binoculars?) -Celestron's anti-vibration pads for the tripod -Thousand Oaks solar filter -- Jonathan Maier firstname.lastname@example.org ETX user since July 2nd 1996
Sent: Saturday, July 26, 1997 10:57:55 From: email@example.com (Tom Price) Just wanted to let the members know that the September 1997 issue of Astronomy magazine has a good review of the ETX Astro. Based on my experience it's pretty accurate in its descriptions and evaluation of our favorite scope. As a subscriber, I got the issue today in the mail. Non-subscribers can expect to find it on the newstands around August 8th. The reviewer reported that his 'sturdy' Bogen tripod wasn't steady enough for the ETX when fully extended. He didn't specify the Bogen model number of either the tripod or the head. This doesn't agree with my experience with the Bogen 3211 tripod with either the 3130 fluid head or my preferred 3275 mini geared head. My setup is extremely steady, even with the ETX tilted some 48.5 degrees from the vertical for polar alignment at this latitude. I no longer use the tabletop legs at all. Other than this minor nitpick, it was a great review. regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Saturday, July 26, 1997 09:15:20 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (B Biggers) Hi Mike, nice site. Here is something for your feedback page. When I got my ETX in '96, the optics were slightly mis-aligned. I didn't want to return it, since the scope was so hard to obtain, so I aligned it myself. Contrary to what has been published, it is not necessary to take the scope apart at all to align it. Use the following instructions at your own risk, I'm providing this for informational purposes only. This is just an outline, if you don't know how to align a scope don't try this. With the proper tool, you can align the ETX through the camera port. You need a set of hex wrenches with "ball heads" that allow the wrench to operate a hex (allen) screw when inserted at an angle. I bought a set for about $4 US at my local "Ace" hardware store. The set I bought was made by "Eklind" and on my scope only the 5/64 inch wrench was needed. (sorry, I don't know where these wrenches might be had outside the USA). I used an artifical star to align my ETX, you can use a real star if you like. First flip down the diagonal mirror, and unscrew the camera port. Inside, you will find 3 sets of 2 screws visible arbound the primary mirror. One screw of each set is a lock screw, the other adjusts the mirror. I THINK, from memory that the right most screw on the top set was the lock screw; you can tell which one is the lock screw because it sticks out more that the others. Loosen all the lock screws, use the others to adjust the alignment, then tighten the lock screws. Be careful not to over-tighten the lock screws when you re-set them; in my understanding they should just be touching. Also, don't turn the adjustment screws too much so that they could fall out. If you need to make more than a couple of turns on the screw, your scope probably has a mechanical problem. Hope this helps. -Bryan
Sent: Saturday, July 26, 1997 07:28:00 From: BirdoB@aol.com Hi Mike, Discovered your Web Site last week after purchasing a ETX for my daughter. When I bought the scope I also purchased the following eyepieces: SP9.7, SP15 and SPWA18. (also a variable lunar filter, #126 Barlow, erecting prism and a Thousand Oaks Solar Filter). I was thinking about adding one of Meade's Ultra Wide Angle eyepieces to finish off her lens collection. I want to buy the one which would compliment the scopes ability the most. Which UWA lens would you recommend? Enjoy your Web Site very much and look foward to exploring it in it's entirety. Also enjoy the ETX. So far we've had some great views of the Moon and this morning got a good look at Jupiter and 3 of it's moons. Thank you. BirdoB@AOL.Com
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 1997 22:28:50 From: email@example.com (Ian Carney) Mike, great page - very useful indeed. Here's my comments: I'm basically very pleased with optical performance of the telescope. I've just used it with the supplied 26mm eyepiece, and with a 2X barlow. The finderscope is a major pain - I've still not managed to get it aligned correctly! I bought a hard case from JMI. I agree that it's really a bit flimsy for the money, but I'm happy with it. It does the job OK, and I'm happy carting the ETX around in it. Do you know of anybody using CCD cameras with the ETX? I'd like to explore this, but know very little about it. Good work - when I get some photos I'll send you the results Ian Carney
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 1997 15:32:55 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Gideon) re: Kendrick Kwik Focus I used it last night, it's really slick. The star image when it gets into focus looks like a tiny ronchi-screen pattern. Pop the unit off the front and you can see 2-3 diffraction rings.
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 1997 14:04:58 From: Dlendan@aol.com Mike have been visiting your page for a while, please keep up the good work. I have had my etx since april it had to go back to meade because of the tracking speed problem. other than im happy with it (sure missed it for a month) What im writing to you about is my solution to the tripod problem, I bought a stepping stone from walmart 24" in diam. cost about 4 bucks, also got a 16 gal. gear oil drum from work(im a mechanic) should be able to find one at any auto shop or oil change shop free. Any how i set it up in my back yard and it works great,rock solid and very stable. Its also easy to move,looks good next to the 10"dob use the same chair. Thanks and cloudless skys. David
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 1997 09:32:58 From: email@example.com (Michael & Lori Nicholas) I am very happy to find this particular site!! Michael A. Nicholas
Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 1997 16:16:39 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Gideon) If you notice in S&T;, there are ads in the back for a mask that allows you to focus a camera better... it is called "Kwik Focus". They don't have small sizes, but if you look closely at the ad, you can see that it is basically two holes on each side of the central obstruction. Just to see how it worked, I got a plastic lid (like the kind that would fit over a margerine tub, and used a 35-mm film canister as a template and cut the holes. It actually works, since you can see two images merge into one. You should try it to see if it helps your photography. Tom
Mike here: The ad for the Kendrick Kwik Focus appears on page 122 in the August 1997 Sky & Telescope. Has anyone tried it?
Sent: Monday, July 21, 1997 20:10:20 From: Han_Kleijn@compuserve.com (han kleijn) Some feedback from mine photo trials with the ETX. Due to the many clouds drifting above our home and the birth of our son, I had not much time for my ETX. However the last months I shot about 6 or 7 slide films with the following results: I tried to Kodak P1600 slide film, which can be pushed till 3200 ASA. I made several pictures of M13, maximum 20 minutes but the due to the Schwarzschild factor (reciprocity failure) the result was just a black film. Secondly keep track with the poor RA was difficult. Unfortunately, the ETX has a focal ratio of only 18, which is just to slow to get any deep sky object on a normal film. With a 3200 ASA hypersensitized film most nebula & galaxy will take a minimum exposure time of about 30 minutes. (according my calculations.). A normal film much longer. I have given up to make a deep sky picture with my ETX. However I discovered that the ETX is great platform for my normal camera and ordinary 35-70 mm, f _ratio=3,5 lens. With this camera I made many nice slides with the Kodak P1600 film pushed till 3200 asa. The development was done in a normal Kodak lab. This film can be pushed till 800, 1600 or 3200 ASA. At 3200 or 1600 ASA, I can see stars till Mag 8 and many nebulas as M31, M8/M20. I just place the camera on top of the ETX. Some plastic tape to protect the ETX and elastic wire keeps it at is place. Exposure times 5, 10, 15 minutes. With the ETX I succeeded in making some nice pictures of Jupiter and the moon. To keep my camera (Minolta X300) open I wind some PVC tape around the camera to keep the button down. On the shuttor button a put a small aluminium paper pellet to activate the electronics. Remote control is done with a separate battery. I found out that the camera shutter creates to much vibration. With exposure times of 1/125, 1/250 or 1/500 the pictures are not so sharp as it should be. Therefore I switched to a slow 50 ASA slide film. Opening time is now controlled with a black mat (my mouse plate or mat !), in front of the telescope. The big advantage is that the pictures are not ruined by vibrations of the camera. Because everything is done manually, the opening time should be one or more seconds. To increase the required exposure time, I'm using eyepc projection. It is possible to fix inside the original Meade ETX long camera adaptor an oculair. I just wrap an ordinary paper tissue around it to keep it in place. The results are good. I made some nice moon pictures and pictures of Jupiter. Jupiter showes on my slides two vague cloud bands. When a have enough good pictures I will get them converted to a photo CD and send you the results. Best regards Han Kleijn
Mike here: Han made an Excel 4 table (ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/han_kleijn/exposure.zip) to calculate the film exposure times for the ETX and of course any other telescope. And he sends his "Best regards from a Dutchman living in Germany."
Sent: Sunday, July 20, 1997 08:55:32 From: email@example.com (pbstrom) Recently I purchased the 932 prism for the ETX, while nicely finished it has one major problem, the thread in the lock-ring is not deep enough, the prism cannoy be firmly mounted on the photo port, the prism wobbles and cannot stay in the upright position. I cured the problem by wrapping a rubber band between the knob and the body of the prism. The country of origin of this accessory is china which is not known for a developed capability at operating precision machines. Frankly annoying, Meade needs to pay attention to quality even in the accessories made in foreign lands. Palle B. Strom firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike here: I would certainly return it to the dealer where you got it. Most, if not all, Meade dealers will exchange defective products without question.
Sent: Sunday, July 20, 1997 06:43:08 From: DonTabbutt@worldnet.att.net (Donald Tabbutt) Thanks for putting my primer on your page. I noticed you have some correspondence regarding tripods on which to mount the ETX astro version and take advantage of its motor drive. This requires a very heavy duty tripod and head, the top or nearly so of the Bogen line at a minimum. This becomes expensive, up to $300 or more. I used a Bogen 3221 with a 3047 head that I already had. But may I suggest a far less expensive and more versatile alternative? A Black & Decker Workmate. It is stable, sturdy, and folds easily for transport and storage. It has a tool tray for eyepieces and flashlights, and a bottom shelf to hold books and charts. To get a larger "tabletop", screw a 2 x 4 onto a 3' x 3' (or larger if you wish) piece of plywood and clamp the 2 x 4 into the Workmate. Use the ETX with its "wedge legs" on the Workmate. This arrangement is literally a "snap" to set up. By the way, level is not important. If you can align on Polaris, the mount is level enough for the motor drive to track well all night. Plus, you can use the Workmate as a Workmate in the daytime! Thanks, Don
Sent: Friday, July 18, 1997 03:29:16 From: email@example.com (Jonathan Maier) I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I bought my ETX over a year ago when they first came out and I was thrilled with it, doing everything from lunar eclipse photography to crude spectroscopy, but a few months ago the tirtiary, flip-down mirror came off of its mounting. I opened the scope up and got it out before it did much damage to the primary mirror, but the tirtiary mirror is ruined. I called meade but never got through to a human. Yesterday I called a local telescope repair shop and what he told me dismayed me a great deal. He said that this was a very common problem with the ETX, that all three mirrors were matched to eachother, so there was nothing he or anybody else could do to repair my scope. He said he thought the scope was no good and to throw it away. He said search on the internet and you'll find a bunch of complaints and such. First of all, I don't believe all three mirrors are matched. Are they? The tirtiary mirror just looks like a 1 x 1.125 inch piece of alluminized glass. If I could get another one of those I think I could glue it in the bracket and be all set. Second of all, have you heard of this happening before? I found no such other complaints on the internet. If so, how did they repair it? I was also considering buying that mount Meade sells with the spotting scope version which attaches onto the back, thus bypassing the tirtiary mirror but still letting me put in eyepieces. I thought that mount might significantly hinder the freedom of movement in polar alignment, however. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. And thanks for putting together such a content rich web page. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Jonathan Maier firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike here: I haven't heard of this before and certainly have not come across any complaints about the ETX. Only some minor annoyances and glitchs; certainly nothing that are complaints as that dealer meant. Obviously someone who doesn't frequent the internet and he probably didn't expect that you did either! As to the "matching mirrors" theory, like you, I doubt that they are matched. That would be too expensive.
Sent: Friday, July 18, 1997 02:42:03 From: email@example.com (Felicia A. Fontaine) From reading the comments on the ETX page, I guess I must be incredibly lucky. I got my scope within about a week of my first inquiry and everything works. I will have to agree the spotter scope is fairly useless in many positions. I did have a couple of suggestions to offer. First, for those wanting to use the tabletop tripod on a stable surface, I suggest trying to locate an old sewing machine table. They're very portable but rock solid when set up. Second, I notice that several folks complain of loss of focus at high magnifications. Remember that the eyepiece is half the scope. With Tele Vue eyepieces, I've been able to push the ETX to 300x without loss of clarity. Using a Tele Vue 8mm + the 126 barlow and a Lumicon UHC filter, I was able to split Antaries to reveal two very clear airy disks (one very red and one rather green) with accompanying defraction rings. It will take 300x with the right eyepiece. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy the site.
Mike here: I am now using a very sturdy microwave table on wheels for holding the ETX. Works great. I just wheel the scope out the door onto the patio, line up the compass (adjusted for the magnetic variation; still working the polar alignment), remove my ETX cover, and viola, I'm ready to observe.
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 10:40:00 -0400 From: "Donald Tabbutt" (DonTabbutt@worldnet.att.net) Subject: [M]: ETX and Autoguider This is a primer on using the ETX as a guide scope with a 201XT, 208XT, or 216XT autoguider. It is a compilation of many posts and responses. Some parts include a computer for imaging, but only for centering purposes during initial setup. If you have a 201XT, use the instructions in your manual for centering. This primer takes advantage of the ETX's flip mirror system to find, focus, and center a guide star. Thanks to all who contributed to this post, in particular Doc G, Howard Anderson, Ric Eckler, John Hoot, and others. You will need: A 201XT, 208XT, or 216XT, which I will refer to as the "guider" in this post. An ETX optical tube assembly. A piggyback mounting system...I use the Losmandy D-Mount with rings. The standard 26mm eyepiece and the locking ring that came with your guider. Meade #64 T-Mount adapter for the ETX. Meade 9mm Illuminated Reticle eyepiece. A computer running Pictorview 6.x connected to the 208XT/216XT (optional). Initial (one-time) Setup (time consuming, but worth the effort): Mount the ETX and carefully collimate it to the main telescope with its eyepiece port "up". Attach the guider to the ETX as follows: Unscrew the nose piece from the guider. Unscrew the ring the nosepiece screws into from the guider. Screw the front half only of the #64 T-adapter into the guider. Remove the dust cover from the rear of the ETX. Mount the guider to the rear of the ETX. Be sure it is Connect the appropriate cables. Attach the locking ring to the 26mm eyepiece such that 3mm (1/8 inch) of the shiny barrel shows through between the stop of the eyepiece and the locking ring. Insert the 26mm eyepiece into the top of the ETX and flip the mirror up. Focus and center (N, S, E, W keys) on a fairly bright star. Flip the mirror down and cover the eyepiece. Using Pictorview, image the star, and using the N,S,E,W keys, repeatedly image it until it is centered. On a 201XT, or if no computer is available, center it per the guider's manual. Recheck the ETX's collimation with the main telescope at this time. Repeat if necessary. Flip the mirror up and insert the 9mm reticle eyepiece. Refocus on the star. Be sure the reticle eyepiece is oriented with one reticle adjuster straight forward (dec) and the other to the right (ra). Move the adjusters until the reticle is centered on the star. Don't touch the reticle adjusters from now on. You now have a parfocal eyepiece (the 26mm), and a fine centering eyepiece (the 9mm reticle). Guiding: Center the main telescope on the target to be photographed. Insert the 26mm eyepiece into the top of the ETX. Flip the mirror up and focus. Adjust the piggyback mount to find a guide star. Center the guide star using the piggyback mount adjustments. Insert the 9mm reticle eyepiece into the top of the ETX (remember orientation). Refocus and finely center the star using the piggyback mount adjustments (don't touch the reticle adjusters). Re-insert the 26mm eyepiece and refocus. Flip the mirror down. Cover the 26mm eyepiece. Follow the guider instructions to set exposure, dark frame, calibrate, and start guiding. Shutdown of the 208XT and 216XT: From Gd, enter a medium press. From FF, enter two short presses to reach Gd, then a medium press. The display will read Cv, where v can be from 0 to 9. Wait until the display reads C0, then unplug the guider. This is an important step to protect the CCD from rapid warm-up. Tips: I've never needed an exposure longer than 1 second on any guide star to mag 9+ with a 208XT. Reset the LX200 declination backlash before each exposure... orientation changes it. Balance the main telescope for each photograph. Always take a dark frame. Good luck! Thanks, Don
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 1997 21:08:06 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Gideon) I really enjoy your page, the comments from other users are very informative. I have had my ETX since August of 96. I ordered the Doskocil "All Weather Series Large Pistols/Accessory Case" from Cabela's. This is a supurb case, with 4 latches and it is water-tight. This size case is almost too small in the height dimension, but if done right the result is worth an afternoon of "fun with foam". The case is tight, in that the scopes base is 7 1/8"+ and the interior height dimension is 7 1/4". Placement of the scope inside the case needs to take into account the "air-release" valve built into the bottom of the case. I asked at the local hardware store about what to use to glue the foam in, and they recommended 3M Weatherstripping Adhesive ($4 a tube). The cutting of the foam can be easily accomplished. This case can hold the scope (remove the finder), at least 6 eyepieces and the tripod legs. The finder screw is a 6/40 X 3/8"screw. By obtaining a 6/40 X 1" screw, a nylon spacer, and adding a "cap screw knob", I was able to make a detachable finder without the use of the hex-head wrench. Clear Skys! Tom Gideon
The item number from Cabelas is 220623, 42.99 + 7.25 shipping.
Sent: Monday, July 14, 1997 15:39:00 From: Thomas.J.Riedl@siemenscom.com (TeeJay Riedl) Can anyone recommend a nice, robust tripod for the ETX? Since I bought mine in March, I've done all of my observing from the front stoop of my house on Capitol Hill in Wash DC, and as such I've been able to use the three leggies without too much trouble (excepting the fact that actually SEEING Polaris in my light-polluted environment is more a concept than an accomplished fact!). The leggies hold the scope very well, although the heat convection from the stone steps starts distorting the image above about 150X. Watching the Moon, I could live with it. I'm now itching to venture out to a better seeing / less convective location, and find out for sure if the clock drive does what they say it does. I'm thinking of Skyline Drive, but I am faced with the option of either using a portable (read: wobbly) table, or a tripod. I toyed with the idea of getting one of Meade's scope 'pods, but I'd rather get something that could also serve my regular (terrestrial) photography. If that's the case, I suspect I'll need some type of "wedge" to optimize it to my latitude.Trouble is, Meade's wegde and superwedge won't mount on a standard 'pod, and even if they did, I couldn't get the ETX mounted on it. Is anyone using such a system, and could you tell me what brands of equipment you've got? I'd appreciate any feedback I can get; I'd like my first dark-sky experience to be a positive one! Teejay, skyblind in DC...
Mike here: There are several comments from users using one of the Bogen tripods with their ETX scopes. Check out the Accessories - Tripods and ETX Feedback pages for their comments.
Sent: Monday, July 14, 1997 06:26:56 From: email@example.com (Paul J. Boudreaux) I have had my ETX for seven months and I an thrilled with it. I also have a 14 inch Celestron, so I can appreciate the fine qualities of its optics. Like everyone else, I too have had tracking problems with the R.A. drive. However, I have found that the culprit on my scope is the sheet metal screw that sets the tension on the central assembly that rotates for R.A. This is the screw that is located under the clock drive electronics at the center of the base. During cold weather, the plastic housing contracts and things tighten up. Using a nut driver to slightly losen the screw, you can easily adjust it so that as you rotate the fork mount relative to the base, it rotates smoothly without wobble. It is reached by removing the lower metal plate that covers the batteries. The clock drive electronics do not have to be moved. This screw slowly changes its tension on the assembly with time. Periodic adjustment clears up my problems. It requires only gentle adjustment. Too much torque could damage the plastic. I also would like to add my Kudos to your web page. I have used it to find the latest tidbits on the ETX. Please keep up the GREAT work on this site. It prooves the true value of the web! Paul J. Boudreaux Technical Director Laboratory for Physical Sciences College Park, Md
Sent: Monday, July 14, 1997 00:11:09 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Price) Some ETX owners, including myself have experienced intermittent problems getting the RA drive to engage and track smoothly. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. This can get kind of frustrating, so I decided to investigate and see if I could find out what was causing this behavior. In a word, it's FRICTION between the rotating part of the ETX (the fork and telescope assembly and the base. The design of the ETX mount is quite simple. The base consists of the heavy steel bottom plate that you remove to change batteries, the electronic control for the motor and the motor itself which has a small gear sticking up through the top of the base. A short tube, carrying a plastic bearing sleeve also sticks up through the center of the base. The fork assembly has a mating tube which fits down snugly over the bearing sleeve and this forms the RA rotation bearing. In between the top and base is the large drive gear, which is alway meshed with the motor shaft gear and can only turn with respect to the base when the motor is running. The RA slow motion knob is attached to another small gear which also meshes with the large drive gear, so that when the RA knob is turned the small gear will 'walk' around the drive gear, thus rotating the scope in RA. The RA locking knob is attached to a screw, which when turned clockwise will clamp the top section to the drive gear, somewhat similar to an automobile disc brake caliper. If the clock motor is running it will slowly turn the drive gear which will now rotate the scope in RA as long as it stays clamped to the drive gear. The base is attached to the top assembly by a single screw through the center of the base, which you can see right under the edge of the printed circuit board in the base. If this screw is too tight, the scope will feel stiff in RA and may move in little jerks instead of smoothly when you turn the RA slow motion knob slowly. If this is the case, take a 1/4" nut driver and back off the screw just slightly, say about 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn. This should make a major improvement in RA smoothness. If the scope still feels too stiff, you might want to try putting a little lubricant on the plastic bearing surfaces between the top and the base. To do this, simply remove the center screw all the way and separate the base from the top. Don't worry, there are no little parts or springs to pop out and get lost; this is a very simple mechanism and it'll be educational for you to see how it's built. I don't know what the best lubricant for the bearing might be. I used a very small amount of Radio Shack Lube Gel, a teflon bearing clear grease on the bearing sleeve and on the bottom of the drive gear. Graphite or some other slippery substance might also be suitable as a lubricant. Don't lubricate the clamping surfaces on the caliper; we don't want slippage there! Re=assemble the base to the top and put the screw back in to hold them together. Tighten it carefully until you feel some stiffness when you turn the RA slow motion knob and then back it off until it turns freely again. As best I can tell, the problem was friction in the bearing between the top assembly and the base, primarily caused by the center screw being too tight. The drive motor delivers quite a bit of torque to the little gear driving the big gear so I don't think it was stalling. The bearing friction was causing the RA locking clamp to slip and so the scope would either not move at all or move in little annoying jerks. Once I got the bearing so that the top assembly would rotate smoothly, the drive motion seems to be very steady even with a high-powered eyepiece. regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Saturday, July 12, 1997 08:11:19 From: X140@aol.com I read the review of the plastic carry case for the ETX just before I was ready to order one. I am going to Arizona in Aug. and the ETX is going along. I thought that I might be able to make a better carrycase myself. I purchased a carry-on bag from United States Luggage. This is a VERY sturdy bag, with hard sides with wheels and a handle- perfect for taking to an airport and on the plane. At a local fabric store I purchased dark grey foam for $ 12.00 and had them cut it to the size of the interior of the bag. I made a tracing of the ETX and cut it out of the foad with my scroll saw. I now have plenty of room for the ETX, various lenses, exterior pockets for star charts, books and anything else I might need to take along, all in one place! The whole thing cost about $ 20.000 more than the plastic case, but I think it is worth it to protect the ETX. John.
Sent: Friday, July 11, 1997 00:43:24 From: email@example.com (Paul Butler) I have enjoyed reading all the coments on your web site about different people's experiences with ETX. The only thing that i was unsure of after looking at the ETX at the Natural Wonders store was the mount and it's ability to view as much of the sky as the EQ mount on the 395. I don't have any problem with the quality of the optics because everyone seems to think that they are very good quality, especially over the 395 optics. I really like the scope itself, but I do not like the mount. I wish they would have mounted it like the lx200 and just made it a lighter duty for portability. Do know if Meade has any plans of maybe doing that? Thanks for your input, Paul Butler
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 1997 21:58:39 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Price) Looking over my mentions of polar alignment in past messages, it occurred to me that some of the members might want to get the alignment even more precise than afforded by the compass and spirit level method. In that case I recommend the "star drift" method which takes a little longer to do but will produce an extremely accurate alignment. Here's how it works:  Do a rough polar alignment using the compass/level method or Polaris, whichever is convenient. This puts you in the ballpark.  Put in your highest power eyepiece and aim the ETX at a star as close to South as you can find and with a declination between -10 and +10 degrees. Center the star in the eyepiece and turn on the RA drive so that the ETX will follow the star. Ignoring any East-West (RA) drift, watch to see if the star drifts North or South in the eyepiece, which will indicate an error in the azimuth of your polar alignment. If the drift is South, the azimuth is too far East of North and if it drifts North, the polar axis is pointing too far West of North. Make small adjustments of the azimuth until the star no longer drifts North or South over a period of several minutes.  Now find a star near either the Eastern or Western horizon, again with a declination within 10 degrees or so of 0. Center the star in the eyepiece and again check for drift either North or South, again ignoring and drift in RA. If the ETX is pointing East, a drift South indicates that the polar axis is pointing too low. If the star drifts North, the polar axis is pointing too high. These directions will be reversed if you're using a star near the Western horizon or if you happen to be in the Southern hemisphere. Adjust the altitude of of the polar axis until the star no longer has any North-South drift for several minutes.  If you had to make large corrections (several degrees) in either steps  or , repeat them, since they do interact somewhat. If only minor corrections were needed you're done and you have a very accurate polar alignment for your ETX. If you happened to know the identity of the star you're using in step , compare its declination with what the ETX DEC setting circle shows. If there is close agreement you can probably eliminate step  altogether, since that indicates that the polar axis altitude is already set pretty accurately. regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, July 9, 1997 03:26:11 From: email@example.com (Tom Price) > Sent: Thursday, July 3, 1997 23:04:50 > From: rong@pogo.WV.TEK.COM (Ronald M Gilbert) > Mike....enjoy your page. I need to touch bases with you in > regards to the ETX focusing. Is it usual to have out of focus > objects using the higher eyepieces? Is it a light pollution > problem or maybe a problem with the scope? I haven't enjoyed my > ETX after comparing to what others are posting to your page. > They seem to have greater results than my- self, kinda feel I'm > missing something. Also, could you give a simple way of polar > alignment using the ETX without a tripod but with the three legs? > I still am having problems in that area. Thanks, Ron Here are my comments on Ron's message:  Focusing: If the ETX focuses well with the 26mm eyepiece it's unlikely that there is a problem with the scope. Unless you have a matched set of parfocal eyepieces, it's always necessary to refocus any time you change eyepieces or put in a Barlow lens. Also, with the higher power eyepieces or the Barlow, focusing becomes much more critical than with the 26mm eyepiece that comes with the ETX. Seeing conditions also will limit how sharp objects will appear at higher magnifications. Although the ETX specifications mention 325X as the maximum practical magnification, unless viewing conditions are exceptionally good you shouldn't expect to get good results much over 200X. I do most of my viewing at 48X and 100X with an occasional jump to 200X, using the Barlow. Incidentally, Barlow lenses longer that the Meade #126 recommended for the ETX may not focus properly with some eyepieces.  Polar Alignment: ETX users very quickly find that polar alignment using Polaris is very difficult because they can't use the finder scope when the ETX is set for 90 degrees declination. With only about a one degree field of view with the 48X eyepiece, it can get really frustrating to get Polaris in the eyepiece while trying to move the scope in azimuth and adjust the variable leg for the proper altitude. My solution for this is not to use Polaris at all. First, set the adjustable leg for your latitude and use a small spirit level to make sure that your table is reasonably level. Find the direction of true North with a magnetic compass, correcting for the variation in your area and aim the scope in that direction. Use the DEC setting circles to set the scope to the angle equal to your latitude. With the lens cap in place turn the scope in RA until it points straight up with the top of the lens cover approximately level. Lay the spirit level across the lens cover, in the East-West direction and adjust the RA slow motion control until it's level and then lock it. Then lay the spirit level across the lens cover in the North-South direction and adjust the variable leg until it's level. That's it! Now unscrew the lens cap and you're ready to start observing. This whole procedure only takes a couple of minutes and can be done in the daytime. It generally is accurate enough so the ETX will track quite well for normal observing. The largest source of error will probably be in the polar azimuth adjustment, due to magnetic compass inaccuracies. Once you've found the direction of true North accurately, you can mark where you set up the ETX and set up even more quickly next time. With a good polar alignment and clear, non-hazy skies, you can actually observe the bright planets, like Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and sometimes Mars, during the daytime if you know where to aim the scope. I often use Venus to check the scope's alignment before sunset. regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, July 9, 1997 01:53:39 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (James Kondrat) Excellent Site!! I have been wanting to take the dive and buy a scope for a while now and your site pushed me over the edge. I picked up my ETX yesterday and tried it out briefly last night. I did have one question. It seems that when I near the Northern horizon the Declination fine adjust will let me track back South but fails to move the tube closer to North (the knob just spun freely but engaged and I felt tension when going back South). I'm pretty sure that this is because I was nearing the limit but wanted to see what you thought. Dec worked fine when I was in any other position. Is this common or should I call Meade support? Again very solid job and I look forward to updates of your site. -- Jim Kondrat
Mike here: As to the DEC knob, I once had a similar situation unrelated to position. When the DEC screw reached its limit, nothing appeared to happen. Unlocking the DEC lock, backing up the DEC adjustment screw to "halfway" and then relocking the DEC seemed to solve the problem. Since that first time I've never managed to reach the end of the screw!
Mike - Looks like I may have goofed when I first used the scope. Not knowing that I had to, I did not lock DEC before elevating. I'm sure this was the problem as it hasn't occured since. Tonight should be the first really clear night here in the Chicagoland area since I bought the scope. I'm pretty excited about really trying it out. I'm not only brand new to the scope but brand new to the hobby. Other than taking an astronomy course way back in college I only know what I've read in Discover and Scientific American magazines. My wife and I looked at the moon for the first time last night and I think the view justified the purchase in her mind. Just so you know, I have a site of my own. I manufacture and sell instruments used in physical and forensic anthropology. It's an unrelated field but I'm going to put a link to your site in my "Related Sites" list next time I update the site. It's just too good not to. My clients are scientifically inclined enough that a few may even be ready to take the plunge like me. Thanks again for the site. I'm always skeptical about making purchases like this one until I hear unbiased opinions and your site contained the exactly the input and information that I needed. I'll let you know what the stars look like through nubian eyes. -- Jim Paleo-Tech Concepts --> (http://wwwheels.com/paleo-tech)
Sent: Tuesday, July 8, 1997 15:19:40 From: email@example.com (Adolfo Viana) I recently got a Meade Narrowband filter, since here in Bogota we have a well poluted area, one of my first targets was M57, that night we were using the ETX and a LX50 8", with the use of the filter the image was very clear through the ETX, the big difference with the LX50 was in the apparent size, both observations were with the Meade 26mm SP. Late that night I turned to Jupiter, using the SP 2X barlow from Meade and I couldn't see the red spot. Do you have any sugestions (remember I'm near equator)? clear skies ADOLFO VIANA firstname.lastname@example.org Bogota, Colombia.
Sent: Monday, July 7, 1997 16:36:38 From: rong@pogo.WV.TEK.COM (Ronald M Gilbert) All of the eyepieces I have are ETX, ordered from the Nature Co. What I'm not seeing is a sharp image using the higher power eyepieces, however I use them with the Meade 2x barlow also. Could it be that the barlow is bad? I live about 70 miles from the coast and plan on taking an overnight trip soon. The conditions at the coast are great with no pollu- tion, etc. Maybe that will help. Keep up the good job with your page, it is helpful. Ron PS: I,m the guy who mentioned to you about using a 35mm film case to "plug" the upper eyepiece hole while observing terrestial side of our ETX's.
Mike here: It sounds like maybe you are expecting too much. When you double the magnification using a Barlow Lens, images can get "softer". And if you start approaching about 60x per inch of aperture (meaning about 200x for the ETX), things can go fuzzy. Images should still be usable until you exceed that by a lot. Of course, there are other factors as well: turbulence due to weather or heat sources (any roofs or parking lots nearby?). By the way, I've used the film can in the EP hole a couple of times. Usually I leave the 26mm ep inserted and cover that with its case.
Sent: Friday, July 4, 1997 10:52:45 From: email@example.com (Tom Price) On a clear evening a few days ago, I stayed up late enough to wait for Jupiter to move up into a good position for observing. As luck would have it all four of the Galilean satellites were visible and the ETX provided exquisitely sharp and bright views of Jupiter and its moons at 48X, 100X and 200X, although at 200X some atmospheric breakup was evident. Light and dark horizontal bands could be seen on Jupiter but I didn't see the Great Red Spot this time. The Orion broadband Skyglow filter does improve the contrast by a small amount. In my next message, whenever I get around to it, I'll describe the various things I've bought to make my use of the ETX more enjoyable and to get the most out of its capabilities. regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Friday, July 4, 1997 6:11:22 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Gettis) To: email@example.com I have a ETx on layaway at a local store and am considering the puchase of more eps so I am interested in hearing on what eps that owners of the etx use and how high a magnifaction they have been able to use. Thanks John
Sent: Thursday, July 3, 1997 23:04:50 From: rong@pogo.WV.TEK.COM (Ronald M Gilbert) Mike....enjoy your page. I need to touch bases with you in regards to the ETX focusing. Is it usual to have out of focus objects using the higher eyepieces? Is it a light pollution problem or maybe a problem with the scope? I haven't enjoyed my ETX after comparing to what others are posting to your page. They seem to have greater results than my- self, kinda feel I'm missing something. Also, could you give a simple way of polar alignment using the ETX without a tripod but with the three legs? I still am having problems in that area. Thanks, Ron
Sent: Saturday, June 28, 1997 18:27:00 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Manoj Sood) Your ETX page with the QT movie is exceptional! Regards, Manoj Sood email@example.com<
Sent: Tuesday, July 1, 1997 23:58:28 From: JoeSleezy@aol.com Maybe others will want to know about this. The Doskocil "All Weather Series Large Pistols/Accessory Case" can be used to carry and house the ETX. It only cost $50, and is much sturdier than the JMI case, or the Meade cordura ETX case. All you have to do is to carve out the segmented foam in the case into the shape of the ETX, and you have a good padded case. You can also carve out holes for eyepieces, and the tripod legs fit in well. Ask for the large case, dimensions are: 17 1/8" x 12" x 7 1/4" Inner Dimension 18 3/8" x 14 1/4" x 8" Outer Dimension The case is made of a sturdy poly-plastic, with four latches that lock the lid into an O-ring seal to keep out water. The case is quite sturdy for the money, and can be carried by a handle (no shoulder strap). These cases can be bought from a sporting goods store that specializes in rifles and pistols... such as Gander Mountain, or form the Cabela's catalog. The case is from the: Doskocil P.O. Box 1246 Arlington, Texas 76004-1246
Sent: Tuesday, July 1, 1997 1:45:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (George Georgatos) I have recently bought the ETX Telescope and I am very impressed. The optics are perfect and the mount quite stable. I didn't expect it to be that stable. Anyway I would like to ask your opinion as well for the problem I have. When I center an object and then try to focus it, turning the focus control left or right, it shifts the image left or right a bit. While in 100x magnification I would assume that this will be very annoying at higher magnifications. What I would like to ask you is if this is normal. Does the same happen to you or there is a problem with my ETX ? It says in the manual that you should not turn the focus to much to the right or to the left. I did it once by mistake but not with a lot of force. Can this be the problem? Thank you George Georgatos.
Good morning from Greece, It's not that the image seems disturbed. Of what I know collimation problem is when the star image looks like an ellipse when you focus in or out. The problem I have is like this: Center the ETX on an small object. Then look at the object in respect to the viewing circle of the eyepiece. Now turn the focus left & right by a small amount. You will see the object move a tiny bit to the left or right in respect to the viewing circle of the eyepiece. Stranglely enough I went yesterday to the authorised MEADE dealer of Greece for a second opinion. He had an ETX on display which had the same problem ! Are you sure that yours does not have the same problem ? The image though looks perfect. I couldn't believe it when I saw saturn with such detail. PS: I have bought it from a company called ASTRONOMICS. You might know it. They were one of the few that had it for immediate delivery. George.
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 1997 18:37:57 From: email@example.com (Michael ROCHFORT) Firstly, I must compliment you on your page. It is a great source of information on the ETX and other general Astronomy issues. I am not as yet an ETX owner, hopefully a situation soon to change, but have done much reading about this great telescope. At the moment, I own a Meade 4500 with the #531 motor drive. The electronics of this drive seem to be identical to that in the ETX, and the same accuracy problems occur, so I modified the drive based on the circuit diagram provided by Han Kleijn (Feedback 17/4/97). The drive is now variable, and can be used to track objects over very long periods. Notwithstanding the warranty issue, I will be considering the same mod when I get my ETX. With a declination motor, I should be able to use my ETX as a mount for at least wide to medium angle astro-photography away from the city lights. I believe that the ETX also has a problem viewing the horizon opposite to the pole when polar aligned at latitudes from the equator to about 40deg North or South. I think this could be resolved by polar aligning in the normal way, turning the scope around 180 deg, setting the latitude leg to the co-latitude of normal polar alignment (you may need the high latitude leg), and then use the N-S switch to make the scope revolve in the opposite direction. Michael Rochfort firstname.lastname@example.org www.netro.com.au/~michael/index.htm
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 1997 16:33:17 From: email@example.com (Daniel Bengtsson) Nice site. I have been looking for a telescope for a while and recently discovered the ETX. Now I have a question. If you got the money that the ETX costs, and want to spend them on a telescope, is the ETX the one you buy or are there alternatives. I mean are the ETX really the king of telescopes in its prizeclass? /Daniel Bengtsson SWEDEN
Mike here: When I purchased my ETX the price was $495 (US). Now it is $595. I would probably think a little bit longer now and compare the ETX to more expensive ($800-1000) scopes. I still like the optical quality and the convenience of its small size (a major consideration for me and many others). So, in fact, I would probably still end up with an ETX.
Sent: Friday, June 27, 1997 05:37:30 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Erin Leigh) Hi there! If you don't mind me taking a moment of your time... I was just visiting you web-site, and I noticed that one of your readers mentioned that Natural Wonders carries Meade products. This is true. However, they do not carry the ETX. As a store manager of the local The Nature Company, I thought I would do my company a little favor, as well as give you some info that you may not have been aware of. We at TNC, are Meades largest vendor, so we get first "dibs" on the hard to come by ETX. In fact, we carry their catalog in-store and we deal directly with the manufacturer. We can order ANYTHING Meade makes! I recently did some comparison shopping at the local Natural Wonders, and was informed by the sales person that Meade doesn't make a catalog. Meade also packages it's more basic model scopes differently for TNC, including extra eye-pieces, star-diagonal prisms... OK, I'll stop now, just some tid-bits I wanted to pass on! Thanks for your time! Leigh
Sent: Friday, June 27, 1997 05:08:26 From: email@example.com (Roberto Carniel) My compliments for your ETX pages!!! I have a doubt. I would like to buy the UHC filter from Lumicon. Does it fit the standard Super Plossl 26mm LP Multi-Coated Eyepiece of the ETX? Have you tried? Do you know anybody hwho has tried it? Thanks a lot!!! Roby
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 1997 18:02:48 From: Lismarcol@aol.com I'm interested in purchasing a tripod for my Meade ETX Astro Telescope, and I'm concerned about getting one that is sturdy enough. The Nature Company sells a Bogan model 3170 for the ETX, although a local shop tells me that this model may not be adequate (he recommended one about twice the price!) I would like to mount my 35 mm camera on the scope as well (adding about 20 oz.), and it seems to me that when the telescope is polar aligned, it may tilt excessively on the tripod and be unstable. Would you be able to recommend a particular model tripod to mount the ETX with camera for polar alignment? I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks !!! Lismarcol@aol.com
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 1997 18:12:29 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Price) My Meade #126 Barlow lens and the Orion broadband Skyglow filter finally arrived a few days ago and last night provided at least a limited opportunity to look at some deep sky objects before moonrise. First I used the setting circles to locate e-Lyrae, the famous "double-double". With Lyra that close to the zenith, using the ETX finder scope is pretty awkward but using the setting circles is easy with a reasonable polar alignment of the ETX. I was able to clearly split both e-1 and e-2 using a combination of the Barlow and the 26mm Meade Super Plossl that came with the scope. This was at a total magnification of 96X. Both pairs were very clear and sharp with black showing between them. Using the 12.5mm Plossl and the Barlow to yield 200X was a bit too much for the seeing conditions at the time; the image was starting to break up although both pairs were still visible. 96X was the best choice for last night. After doing the "double-double" test, I shifted over to M57 in Lyra, the Ring Nebula. At 48X, this 9th magnitude object looked like a fuzzy dot but using the Barlow to boost the magnification to 96X made the faint ring shape just visible. Using the Skyglow filter made it look slightly better by improving the contrast, but M57 is not an easy object in a small telescope. You need pretty good dark skies and dark-adapted eyes. I'll try it again later when seeing conditions will support 200X. Last night I also looked at the M5 and M13 globular clusters. They looked very good at 48X and at 32X using the Orion 40mm SIrius Plossl. I'm looking forward to exploring the brighter areas of Scorpius next month when they are in a better position for evening viewing. I hope that all of the above will be useful to those who might be wondering about the optical performance of the ETX. In a word, it's SUPERB. regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 1997 15:24:55 From: email@example.com (Mike Derge) I am complete novice to astrophotography. I recently purchased an ETX to take to Guadeloupe next February to photograph the total eclipse. Some questions I have are: 1. Can you recommend Film type, exposure time for photos prior to totality. I have purchased a 1000 Oaks solar filter for this. 2. Can you recommend Film type, exposure time and any filter for the approximately 3 minutes of totality. I have two Minolta cameras & mounts for the T-64 so I can change film type quickly. 3. Will I have trouble polar-aligning the scope at 16 degrees latitude? I will be in Guadeloupe the previous evening so I can attempt to align on Polaris. 4. Is there anything I am forgetting? I don't want to mess up this 'once in a lifetime' photographic event. 5. What does ETX stand for anyway? I was very excited when I found your site on YAHOO. I couldn't dream of a better forum for the exchange of information about the ETX.
Mike here: You may have some problems polar aligning without building something or using a tripod. The standard leg only goes down to 28 degrees latitude. I have no experience with the 1000 Oaks solar filter so can't address that except to say that faster might be better if it blocks a lot of light. Prior to totality, slower film would probably be better. But of course, it depends upon what you want to photograph. As to what ETX stands for, beats me. "Extraordinary Telescope eXperimental"??? And then it stuck?
Sent: Monday, June 23, 1997 01:51:42 From: PYYAP@mutiara.com.my (Yap Phui Yin) Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The ETX is simply fantastic. I use a 9mm eyepiece with a barlow to get 277X. I used 277X to observe to moon and Jupiter and its moons. The image is still clear and sharp even at 277X. Amazing for a telescope so compact to perform so well. Thank You. Yap Phui Yin e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Saturday, June 21, 1997 08:17:23 From: email@example.com (Glenn Brock) I built a tripod table using Aaron Henderson's plans last weekend. It works great. It is solid and dampens very quickly. I used his dimensions which were perfect. Here are a few of my minor modifications: Aaron recommends using hardwood for the cleats. I used the excess wood from the crutches. I only rounded the corners - didn't do the 45 deg cuts. I sanded the rubber feet on the crutches to match the angle of the legs. One thing that concerned me was that a hard bump would make the opposite leg want to fold under. I had cut my crutches above the second set of hand hold holes. I got 3 bolts and wing nuts to go through first set of holes (second set is the pivot). I screwed in an open ended eyelet screw about a 1/2" from the table edge centered behind each set of cleats. I found some heavy duty o-rings (could use rubber bands) and when I setup the table, I hook the o-rings on the eyelets then thread the bolts through the o-rings. This puts a spring force on each leg pulling them out. I adjusted the length of the connecting chain so that the legs are pulling against each other. As I said, it works well and even looks good. Glenn Brock
Sent: Saturday, June 21, 1997 02:43:56 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Sweetnam) Thanks a million for all the helpful info Mike.
Mike here: Since I also find the comments from other ETX users helpful, my thanks to all the contributors. You are all part of making this site useful to ETX users worldwide.
Sent: Friday, June 20, 1997 23:58:53 From: SPSesq@worldnet.att.net (Steven Sukel) I got an ETX as my first scope in April and had excellent views of Hale-Bopp, the moon and even mars to some degree with the following tripod set-up. I purchased the Bogan 3046 tripod. It holds up to 26 pounds. I also got the Bogan 3028 Super 3D Head. For Polar alignment, which I now have down to a science, I located Polaris, centered it perfectly, adjusted the pan head to the proper angle and locked it so as to permanently set it to my latitude. I then obtained three "property markers" and marked the tripod's foot position. Now all I have to do is place the tripod on the markers and I am perfectly aligned every time. It took me two nights and a couple hours to set everything up but now I can observe almost immediately after my eyes adjust to the dark. I must admit I am a bit dispointed with the limited photography accessible with the ETX due to its mediocre drive motor, but as this is my first scope, I will learn with it and hope for an LX200 later. I will keep the ETX though fo rmy son so we may observe together when he gets older. It would be perfect for him. I did a lot of research bfore I bought and spoke to a number of people and for $595 I beleive I made a great chioce for my "First Scope"
Mike here: Yes, astrophotography with the ETX is limited due to the drive. I'm still experimenting with longer exposures and hope to post some new attempts (good or bad) once I get the PhotoCD back from the lab. But some photos are possible as shown in the ETX Gallery pages.
Sent: Friday, June 20, 1997 18:28:29 From: email@example.com (William Summers) In your web page you said you got your ETX at The Nature Company. Are you sure that it was there and not Natural Wonders? They are two totaly different companys. In my area Natural Wonders carries Meade products.
Mike here: The Nature Company is a chain of stores that carries Meade. They also have an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). I did purchase mine at a local Nature Company store. But it is good to learn that Natural Wonders also carries them.
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 1997 23:02:28 From: PYYAP@mutiara.com.my (Yap Phui Yin) My name is P.Y. Yap and I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I collected my Meade ETX yesterday from the supplier but I am aware of your ETX web-page since a month ago. I manage to learn a lot about the ETX from your web-page. Thank You. Yap
Sent: Monday, June 16, 1997 21:49:08 From: email@example.com (Aaron Henderson) I just wanted to inform you of my website. It has complete instructions for building a tripod table for the ETX or in my case a Questar. They can both benefit from this design and I would be very happy for you include it as a link on your page. http://www.mindspring.com/~astro2 Any questions please contact me. thanks, Aaron Henderson
Mike here: This looks useful. I was considering doing just such a device when I discovered that I already had a heavy duty microwave stand. It's on wheels, which is good for portability and possibly bad for stability. Since I just moved I haven't tried it out yet but hope to soon. If it fails the stability test I'll be going back to Aaron's instructions!
Sent: Monday, June 16, 1997 20:54:08 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Wade Halvorson) Your web site is an excellent resource for the ETX. I am thinking of using an ETX OTA as a guide scope. I would like to know what the weight of the telescope by itself is. Got any ideas or estimates. Thanks, Wade Halvorson email@example.com
Mike here: Many users on the MAPUG mailing list use their ETX as a guide scope on their LX-200 systems.
Sent: Sunday, June 15, 1997 21:09:40 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (maxx) To: email@example.com I am doing astrophotography with a 8" LX200 and would like to have an ETX for same. My questions are: Are there any provisions for using a autoguider for longer exposures ? If not how difficult would it be to modify it ? Are you considering doing this ? I have been looking at the Olympus digital camera. It offers 1024x768 resolution. Do you know anyone who has tried it ? I have seen a small German equatorial mount with drive motors advertised in Sky & Tel for small scopes for $299.00. Looks like a natural for the ETX. Thanks, Jim
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 1997 20:44:56 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (David Trappett) Can you clarify the following questions for me? 1. What are the limitations on viewing the sky with the ETX mounted in the forks? I live at Latitude 27 degrees South. 2. How good is the tracking? 3. Can the scope be removed from the fork mounts easily? Many Thanks David Trappett
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 1997 14:49:34 From: email@example.com (Tim Kline) I happened upon your page while researching telescopes as my wife generously offered the opportunity to acquire a telescope for my birthday. Along with many others out there I'm sure, I find myself confused by all of the contradicting statements for and against the ETX as compared with other similar scopes. My needs are simple(I thought): at first we were mainly interested in nighttime viewing only until we happened across the ETX. I didn't think a cat scope could be had for that low a price! A distributor has two in stock locally and he is asking $699 - which seems a bit steep given what I've read from others here. The crux of my dilemma is, given that I would like to play around with photography with whatever scope I buy, and that it would be nice to use it day or night, and that I would like to be able to put it in my car and take it elsewhere for viewing; is there a better option out there for the money than the ETX? I'm guessing that my be a nice short tube reflector or something of that nature. Obviously I'm not that verbose in terminology, but if I'm going to buy a scope, I would like good quality for my money(as does everyone) and would like to be able to see more than just adequate detail of the moon and a few close planets. I would appreciate any thoughts you have as you seem to have learned a lot in a short period of time after being in my shoes starting out. Thank you, Tim
Mike here: The ETX is a fine scope. $700 is overpriced however (list is $595) unless the dealer is throwing in some good options. For its size and portability AND low price, it can't be beat for its optical quality. You will find larger telescopes with more light gathering power but they are less portable. Astrophotography with the ETX (or any telescope) is challenging. I have put many photos online, some good, some not so good, to illustrate typical results. There are photos from others as well in the Guest pages. Now that I've moved to darker skies, I can't wait to try out the ETX. But that has to wait until things get more organized (unpacked!) here.
Sent: Friday, June 13, 1997 12:29:09 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Price) Now that I've had some more time to play around with my ETX and even had a few evenings of reasonably clear skies for observing, I'd like to share some of the experience with the members and contribute a few tips that I've found to be useful. First, a general comment. Many times when we buy something that looks great in the ads and even right out of the box, ultimately we find the product not so great or even disappointing after we use it for a while. This is definitely NOT the case with the ETX Astro! Each time I use it, I'm more impressed with its optical performance, ease of setup and ability to zero in on faint objects. This is a real winner of a product for the amateur astronomer. Now for some specifics:  Field Tripod - The included table tripod legs may be adequate for casual use around home if you can set the ETX up on a solid table. A good sturdy tripod makes it easier to set up the ETX anywhere and get it aligned quickly. The Bogen 3211 legs ($86.90) with either the 3130 Microfluid Head ($55.95) or the 3275 Mini Geared Head ($136.95) are excellent choices. If you can afford it, the 3211/3275 combo is terrific; the gear controls make fine alignment adjustments very easy and there are no clamps to fool with. You can get the best prices for Bogen products at either B&H; Photo or Adorama in New York City, rather than a place like Orion, for example, which sells the 3275 head for $206, a pretty steep markup.  Eyepieces - I bought a 40mm and a 12.5mm Sirius Plossl from Orion and they've turned out to be execellent performers for somewhat less than their Meade equivalents. I have a Meade #126 Barlow on order and that, along with the 12.5mm, 26mm and 40mm eyepieces should give me an adequate range of magnifications from 32x to 200x for most purposes.  Camera Adapters - I have both the Meade #64 T-adapter and the Meade Basic Camera Adapter and am still waiting for a chance to make use of them for astrophotography with my old Minolta SRT-101 SLR. I'll have a report after I have some experience with them. I've taken some extremely sharp terrestrial photos using the the #64 at the prime focus, so this looks promising.  Polar Alignment - I like to set up the ETX around sunset so that I can have a look at Venus, Mars and the Moon if it's available. Right now with sunset about 8:15 PM local DST, it'll be after 9:00 PM before Polaris is even visible to the naked eye and the ETX finder can't be used with the OTA at 90°. My approach is not to use Polaris at all, even when I CAN see it. I do my daylight setup with a magnetic compass (allowing for local variation) and a spirit level. This only takes a few minutes with the ETX on the tripod and when done carefully, is more than accurate enough for all normal viewing, even star-hopping with the setting circles. For instance, the other evening I did this alignment before sunset, put the ETX on the first quarter moon and then used the setting circles to put Venus right in the 26mm eyepiece field with the Sun still above the horizon. Right after sunset, I was able to star-hop from Venus to Mars, all before either planet could be located with the naked eye. If the polar alignment is a little off using this method, it will usually be due to compass error rather than latitude error, and the adjustment can be refined after twilight by using any visible stars near the meridian and on the celestial equator to the South using the star drift method. Just center a star in the eyepiece, engage the RA drive and ignoring any drift in RA, see if the star drifts North or South in the eyepiece after a few minutes. If it drifts North the polar axis is pointing a little West of North or if it drifts South the polar axis is aimed a bit East of true North. Just adjust the azimuth of the polar axis until the star doesn't drift either North or South as ETX tracks it in RA. If you need to tweak the polar axis in altitude, you use a similar technique with a star low in either the East or West and adjust the altitude (latitude) of the polar axis to eliminate any North-South drift in the eyepiece. I've found that these methods are so accurate that I can use the setting circles to get even very faint objects in the 26mm eyepiece without ever using the tiny, inadquate finder scope that came with the ETX. I have an Orion EZ Finder on order for the ETX and with that installed I won't need the ETX finder even for bright objects to serve as bases for star-hopping. In my next message, I'll have some information on a couple of the software programs that I use to make my viewing sessions more enjoyable. By that time I should also have the Barlow and a broadband nebular filter to make some comments on. Regards and clear skies, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 1997 02:42:26 From: email@example.com (Tom Surgalski) My name is Tom Surgalski. I bought an ETX in April. I'm new to using setting circles and wonder if you could recommend software or a book on how to look up objects. I found M41 by mistake and was fascinated with it. I really like the ETX. Thanks for having such a great web site, I find it very useful. See ya! Tom Surgalski firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike here: There are several commercial and shareware packages available for both the PC and Mac. I see that your email came from a Windows machine so I assume you want a PC version. Check out Sky & Telescope; or Astronomy; there are ads for astronomical software there. You can also search the web for astronomical (or sky charting) software; you should get some hits. For the Macintosh, I like Voyager II 2.0 (a commercial product). The new commercial version of Starry Night is getting some rave reviews. On the shareware side, SkyChart 2000.0 v2.1 is pretty nice although I didn't like the print quality on a Postscript printer.
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 1997 00:16:52 From: email@example.com (pbstrom) Bought the ETX last months, still adjusting to the features. Looking forward to hearing from other ETX owners. Has anyone managed a view of the deep sky? Palle Strom firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sunday, June 8, 1997 17:24:21 From: email@example.com (Glenn Brock) Thanks for setting up and running this web site. It aided me considerably in deciding to purchase an ETX this past week. I'm very pleased with it and it has performed flawlessly. My next task is to decide what to do for a better viewing table or go with a good tripod. A few weeks back Aaron Henderson posted a message to sci.astro.amateur about a tripod table he built for his Questar. The URL follows. The dimensions look to be correct for the ETX as well. Before I start cutting wood, I thought I'd ask if anyone has built one of these and what they think of it? Or, are there some other ideas out there? Thanks, Glenn Brock Aaron Henderson's Tripod Table: http://www.mindspring.com/~astro2/tripod.html
Sent: Saturday, June 7, 1997 05:28:02 From: Mrcsharp@aol.com I am the proud owner of an ETX ,about 2 months now and I must say the optics in mine are EXCELLANT.My primary reason for purchasing this particular scope is to take to Curacao next Feb to view and photograph the solar eclipse. I would like to hear from others that will be undertaking this project and their plans as to film, shutter speeds & methods of alignment etc. Claude Sharpton
Sent: Tuesday, June 3, 1997 14:05:23 From: Bill_Marshall@compuserve.com (Bill Marshall) As a new ETX owner I am gland to have found your page. Thanks for setting it up. I ma sure it will help me enjoy the scope and astronomy. For your info the "ETX User Group" link to other sites now links to Microsoft of all things and not to an ETX user group. Bill Marshall
Mike here: I have removed the Meade ETX User's Group link. If anyone knows of its new location, drop me a note.
Sent: Monday, June 2, 1997 15:58:12 From: RafeM@aol.com Hi Mike, Here's the latest on ETX and plastic glue. Very helpful tech. services (named Mike) for ETX at Meade let me know that the plastic is ABS -- same material used in plumbing pipes. He recommends I use any glue suitable for such plumbing pipes. And if that doesn't work well enough, (though he thought it would), for $100 Meade will replace damaged parts and refurbish. As I paid $495 for my new ETX last summer the $100 -- if I need to go that route -- brings things into current price range is all. Mike at Meade also offered any other talk-through support I might need. I feel they are offering fine service. Hope everyone gets treated as well! All best Rafe Martin
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