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ETX USER FEEDBACK - JUNE-JULY 1997
Last updated: 6 August 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:	gt3130a@prism.gatech.edu (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
jmaier@mindspring.com
ETX user since July 2nd 1996


Sent:	Saturday, July 26, 1997 10:57:55
From:	tompr@csi.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:	biggers@globaldialog.com (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:	icarney@us.oracle.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:	tomg@icat.com (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:	man_ldn@prodigy.net (Michael & Lori Nicholas)
I am very happy to find this particular site!!
Michael A. Nicholas


Sent:	Tuesday, July 22, 1997 16:16:39
From:	tomg@icat.com (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:	pbstrom@innercite.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   pbstrom@innercite.com

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:	gt3130a@prism.gatech.edu (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
jmaier@mindspring.com

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:	revff@ro.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.


Mike here: the following was posted on the MAPUG Mailing List. I felt it would be useful to archive it here as an ETX item.
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:	tomg@icat.com (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

Added later:

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:	boudreau@eng.umd.edu (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:	tompr@csi.com (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:	paul@calvin.uchsc.edu (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:	tompr@csi.com (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:
[1] Do a rough polar alignment using the compass/level method or
Polaris, whichever is convenient. This puts you in the ballpark.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] If you had to make large corrections (several degrees) in
either steps [2] or [3], 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 [2], compare its declination with what the ETX DEC setting
circle shows. If there is close agreement you can probably
eliminate step [3] 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:	tompr@csi.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:

[1] 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.

[2] 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:	jkondrat@msn.com (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!

Added later:

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:	aviana@impsat.net.co (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
aviana@impsat.net.co
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:	tompr@csi.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:	jgettis81@earthlink.net (John Gettis)
To:	etx@me.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:	msood@max-net.com (Manoj Sood)
Your ETX page with the QT movie is exceptional!
Regards,
Manoj Sood
msood@max-net.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:	gige@intranet.gr (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.

A followup:

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:	michael@isdr.cs.nsw.gov.au (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
michael@netro.com.au
www.netro.com.au/~michael/index.htm


Sent:	Sunday, June 29, 1997 16:33:17
From:	danbengt@swipnet.se (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:	aries77@pacbell.net (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:	carniel@dgt.uniud.it (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:	tompr@csi.com (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:	mderge@one.net (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 : pyyap@mutiara.com.my


Sent:	Saturday, June 21, 1997 08:17:23
From:	gdbrock@fastlane.net (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:	savamutt@razorlogic.com (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:	summers@pacbell.net (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 (tnc@aol.com). 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:	astro2@mindspring.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:	whalvorson@sprintmail.com (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
whalvorson@sprintmail.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:	a0011306@airmail.net (maxx)
To:	etx@me.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:	s323524@student.uq.edu.au (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:	tkline@centraxgroup.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:	tompr@csi.com (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:

[1] 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.
[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4]   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:	tompilot@nauticom.net (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
tompilot@nauticom.net

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:	pbstrom@innercite.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
pbstrom@innercite.com


Sent:	Sunday, June 8, 1997 17:24:21
From:	gdbrock@fastlane.net (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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